The ECHL has suspended Jacksonville Icemen defenseman Jacob Panetta indefinitely for a racist gesture directed at an opposing player. Jacksonville has also terminated Panetta’s contract.
Panetta made the offensive gesture towards South Carolina Stingrays defensemen Jordan Subban in overtime of Saturday’s game. The two came together during a scrum sparked when a Stingrays player collided with the Icemen netminder.
Panetta can be seen taunting Subban and making a ‘monkey gesture’ towards his opponent, reportedly with accompanying noises which are not available on the video.
“[Panetta] was too much of a coward to fight me,” tweeted Subban. “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.”
South Carolina’s Nico Blachman left the bench to join the fracas and defend his teammate.
Referee Jake Rekucki started taking names as the players were separated by linesmen Shane Gustafson and Brady Fagan.
A total of 66 penalty minutes were handed out during the incident, with 27 to Panetta, 27 to Blachman, and 12 to Subban.
Panetta’s included the game for an obscene gesture:
75.5 Game Misconduct Penalty – Game misconduct penalties shall be assessed under this rule for […] any player who uses obscene gestures on the ice or anywhere in the rink before, during or after the game. The Referee shall report the circumstances to the Commissioner of the League for further disciplinary action.
He and Blachman also were both assessed fighting majors, though Panetta looked to be on the receiving end of most of the punches.
All three players were tagged for continuing the fight after the officials moved to break things up. From Rule 46.5:
Any player who persists in continuing or attempting to continue a fight or altercation after he has been ordered by the Referee to stop, or who resists a Linesman in the discharge of his duties shall, at the discretion of the Referee, incur a misconduct or game misconduct penalty in addition to any penalties imposed.
Blachman also picked up a misconduct for leaving the bench to join an altercation, per 70.3:
The player or goalkeeper who was the first or second player to leave the players’ (or penalty bench) during an altercation or for the purpose of starting an altercation, from either or both teams shall be assessed a game misconduct penalty.
Subban’s older brother, New Jersey Devils defenseman P.K., tweeted about the incident.
They don’t call the [ECHL] the jungle because my brother and the other black players are the monkeys! Hey [Jacob Panetta] you shouldn’t be so quick [to] delete your Twitter or your Instagram account you will probably be able to play again… that’s what history says but things are changing. Now not just the hockey world knows your true colours… your hometown of Belleville knows, your family, and friends know you’re a fraud ..with everything that has gone on in the past couple years in the world I’ll say with all due respect to everyone who has an pinion, this isn’t a mistake. We all know what’s ok and what’s not. Even your own teammates wanted to see you get your clock cleaned. This happens a lot and it never gets exposed in the lower leagues. One thing that I love about this is Jordan’s teammates standing in there and showing support. Love that.
Panetta’s suspension is pending a league hearing. Once his suspension is over, he’ll need to find a new team.
Jacksonville won the game 1-0 in overtime.