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A hockey player is accused of making “monkey gestures” at his opponent during a minor-league game in Florida.
“As soon as I began to turn my back he started making monkey gestures at me so I punched him in the face multiple times and he turtled like the coward he is,” Jordan Subban, a Black player for the South Carolina Stingrays, wrote in a Twitter post.
His opponent, Jacob Panetta of the Jacksonville Icemen, is now suspended after his actions during the Jan. 22 overtime game in Florida, the East Coast Hockey League said in an online post.
Panetta countered his opponent’s narrative in a video posted to Twitter, saying he had been making a “tough guy, body builder-like gesture” that was misinterpreted.
“My actions toward Jordan were not because of race and were not intended as a racial gesture,” he said in the Twitter post. “I did not contemplate at the time that it would be interpreted by some as a racial gesture.”
Panetta also said he didn’t make racial slurs during the encounter, telling viewers racism and discrimination “have no place” in hockey.
“I sincerely apologize for the pain and suffering and anger that my actions have caused him, his family and everyone who is hurt by this,” Panetta said.
The Icemen in a Twitter post said they were cooperating with the hockey league’s investigation.
“Our core values as an ownership group include one love and zero tolerance for racism or any other forms of hate against any group whatsoever,” the team wrote in a Jan. 23 statement.
“Though the investigation and review is ongoing at the league level, the Jacksonville Icemen will be releasing the player involved effective immediately and will continue our mission of sharing our love of community and hockey. On behalf of the entire Icemen organization, we apologize to any one who was offended and look forward to beginning the process of healing together as one.”
The Stingrays, based in North Charleston, said they were “disgusted and appalled” by the incident.
“Our organization stands in support of our friend and teammate, Jordan, as well as all other players who continue to deal with racism and discrimination,” the team wrote in a statement. “This behavior has to stop and is unacceptable.”
Subban said he was among the players involved in a fight that broke out during the Jan. 22 game.
South Carolina and Jacksonville were playing in overtime when players collided with each other, starting the clash at the Vystar Veterans Memorial Arena in Florida, ESPN and WJTX reported. The Icemen said the incident ended with “multiple penalties on both sides.”
Panetta’s suspension is indefinite, pending a hearing, officials said.