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Moncton Reinstates Hockey Program after Sentences Reduced in Ref Attack.

April 4, 1996 GMT

MONCTON, New Brunswick (AP) _ The University of Moncton reinstated its hockey program Thursday after its league reduced the suspensions of five players involved in the attack on a referee that drew national attention.

Ken Dryden, the NHL Hall of Fame goaltender who is investigating the incident for the Atlantic Universities Athletic Association, advised university president Jean-Bernard Robichaud to bring back the program after it received a five-year suspension.

``I’m delighted,″ said Frantz Bergevin-Jean, a 25-year-old goaltender from Montreal who was suspended. ``We’re not monsters, we’re young adults. We made a mistake. Everybody deserves a second chance.″

Bergevin-Jean and four other University of Moncton players were told that the suspensions received following the Feb. 24 attack of referee Brian Carragher in Charlottetown had been reduced.

The AUAA reduced the suspension after a hearing Monday. The players can reduce the penalties even more if they agree to perform up to 400 of community service.

Bergevin-Jean, Mathieu Bibeau, 25, and Sylvain Ducharme, 22, also from Montreal, were each suspended for five years by the AUAA following Moncton’s overtime, season-ending playoff defeat to the University of Prince Edward Island.

A widely shown video shows the Blue Eagles swarming Carragher seconds after he allowed a controversial winning goal. Players held, punched and speared the referee, who wasn’t seriously hurt.

Pierre Gagnon, 25, received two years for his part in the attack while Phillipe Lavoie, 20, got one.

Under the revised penalties, Bibeau and Ducharme are now suspended for three years and can reduce it to a year if they each complete 400 hours of community service.

Bergevin-Jean gets two years but can slash it to one with 200 hours of service. Gagnon’s two-year suspension stands but he can cut it to a year with 200 hours of work.

``It’s good that the committee saw the human side of the situation,″ Bergevin-Jean said. ``This is one of the good days of the past month for me.″

Lavoie’s suspension was overturned. The videotape of the attack shows him jamming his stick into a group of players surrounding Carragher. In his appeal Monday, Lavoie said he was merely using his stick to pry one of his teammates from the pile.

A sixth player, Jean Imbeau, received a three-game suspension for throwing a stool on the ice. That penalty stands.

Some of the players have used up their five years of university eligibility, but the AUAA has asked that the suspension be upheld at all levels of hockey.

Four players still face assault charges in the attack. Patrick Daviault, an assistant coach who has since been fired, was charged with property damage after someone shattered the plexiglass behind one net with a goalpost peg.