Jacksonville Icemen player suspended, accused of using racial gesture towards Black player

The team said it has released Jacob Panetta after league suspension

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Jacksonville Icemen hockey player has been suspended and cut by the team after he was accused of using a racially motivated gesture towards a Black player on the other team during a Saturday game.

Jordan Subban, who is a forward for the South Carolina Stingrays and brother of National Hockey League star P.K. Subban, said in a tweet that Jacksonville defenseman Jacob Panetta made “monkey gestures” before a scuffle broke out during the overtime period of Saturday night’s contest at Vystar Veterans Memorial Arena.

On Sunday morning, the ECHL announced that Panetta, a 26-year-old from Ontario, has been suspended indefinitely pending a hearing as a result of his actions in the game. Then, the Icemen said it is releasing Panetta in a statement. He was in his second season with the team.

“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,” the statement read in part.

Jordan Subban made the accusation when he responded to a tweet from the Icemen account that said a rough fight resulted in multiple penalties on both sides. According to Jordan Subban, Panetta “was too much of a coward to fight me.”

“...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 tweeted.

A clip of the purported incident recorded from the stands that has since gone viral shows the two having to be separated in the corner to the left of the Icemen net. The video does not include any on-ice audio.

The former fourth-round NHL draft pick said he proceeded to punch Panetta in the face multiple times before he went down to the ice.

(Warning: The video below contains explicit language)

News4JAX has reached out to the Jacksonville Icemen, the ECHL league offices and South Carolina Stingrays for comment.

“To be clear, 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 Icemen said in a statement. “The platform that is the Jacksonville Icemen is one that is more than just about hockey to us as a group. It is about using this platform to spread not only our love for hockey but our love for the community and for each other.”

“The South Carolina Stingrays are disgusted and appalled by last night’s incident involving Jordan Subban,” Stingrays team president Rob Concannon said in a statement on the team’s social media. “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. This behavior is unacceptable and has to stop.”

Jordan’s brother P.K. Subban is the ambassador for “Hockey Is For Everyone,” a new initiative created to promote diversity and inclusion at all levels of the game.

P.K. Subban also tweeted about the incident and said: “They don’t call the east coast league the jungle because my brother and the other black players are the monkeys! Hey (Jacob Panetta) you shouldn’t be so quick delete your Twitter or your Instagram account you will probably be able to play again… that’s what history says but things are changing.”

The NHL also issued a statement Sunday: “Incidents of racism, whether they occur in hockey or anywhere else, are abhorrent. The NHL will continue to make its resources available to the hockey ecosystem to educate and inform, with the goal of making the game welcoming and safe for all players and fans.”

Jacksonville is affiliated with the New York Rangers, and South Carolina is a Washington Capitals affiliate.

This comes on the heels of a similar incident that happened last weekend during an American Hockey League game. AHL league representatives suspended Krystof Hrabik, a forward for the San Jose Barracuda, for 30 games after he was also accused of making a racist gesture.

It was the second time the AHL had to suspend a player for a racial taunt directed at Tucson Roadrunners forward Boko Imama, a Black player.

About the Authors:

A Florida-born, Emmy Award winning journalist and proud NC A&T SU grad