JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – For the first time on Monday, News4JAX spoke with the woman who recorded a hockey fight that went viral and put Jacksonville in headlines across the country.
The woman said she thought it was a typical hockey fight between a Jacksonville Icemen player and a member of the other team, but now the video she recorded is shining a spotlight on issues of race in hockey.
The video shows Icemen hockey player Jacob Panetta gesturing at opponent Jordan Subban, who is Black. Subban said the gesture was racist, and the fallout from that accusation has been far-reaching.
Jacob Panetta, who was suspended by the league and cut from the team, has apologized for the gesture but insists it wasn’t intended to be racist. Subban had a different take, and the woman who recorded it all agrees with him.
They don’t call the east coast league the jungle because my brother and the other black players are the monkeys! Hey @jacobpanetta 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 pic.twitter.com/8zOJ9q47pk— P.K. Subban (@PKSubban1) January 23, 2022
The Jacksonville Iceman fan, who asked not to be identified, said she pulled out her phone to film the fight.
Editors note: News4JAX originally had named the fan who recorded the fight and after this story published and aired on WJXT, she ask to have her name removed.
Over the PA system, Panetta’s misconduct was announced as a “racial gesture.” He and Subban both were cited for game misconduct and removed from the ice.
The Icemen released Panetta on Sunday afternoon.
In the video, you can see Panetta puffing out his arms and moving his shoulders up and down as a ref guides South Carolina Stingrays player Subban in the opposite direction. Subban then breaks away and comes back to confront Panetta.
Later that night, Subban tweeted: “…as I began to turn my back he started making monkey gestures at me so I punched him in the face multiple times…”
More like @JPanetta12 was too much of a coward to fight me and 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. There fixed it 👍🏾 https://t.co/JtPqpN9wwE— Jordan Subban (@jordansubban) January 23, 2022
Panetta later put out a statement saying the incident was a misunderstanding.
“When the linesman was between us, I said to him ‘You’re only tough once the refs get involved,’ and I did a tough guy bodybuilder-like gesture towards him,” Panetta said. “I have made the same bodybuilder gesture to non-racialized players a number of times when there have been on-ice confrontations.”
He said he didn’t make any racist slurs or noises during the confrontation and apologized for the hurt he had caused. Panetta also said he needs to and will learn from this.
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.
At a press conference on Sunday, Jordan Subban’s brother, NHL star P.K. Subban, said: “This is life for us, and that’s what is sad. This is life for people who look like me who have gone through the game of hockey.”
Beardall said even if Panetta’s gesture wasn’t meant to cause harm it still did.
A spokesperson for the Icemen said they could not comment right now because of the ongoing league investigation.