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ECHL Player Suspended, Released After Being Accused of Making Racist Gesture

Closeup view of hockey puck laying on the ice

Jacksonville Icemen defenseman Jacob Panetta was suspended indefinitely by the ECHL on Sunday and then was released from the team after Panetta allegedly directed a racist gesture toward South Carolina Stingrays defenseman Jordan Subban, who is Black.

Video footage from Saturday night's game between the teams shows Panetta, 26, gesturing toward Subban during an altercation at the beginning of overtime. Officials assessed 27 minutes in penalties, including two game misconducts, to Panetta during the incident, and the league suspended him Sunday morning pending a hearing.

"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," Subban wrote on Twitter.

Subban, 26, was a fourth-round pick of the Canucks in the 2013 NHL draft. Subban's older brother, star Devils defenseman P.K. Subban, voiced his frustration about the incident on social media, writing, "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 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."

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Stingrays team president Rob Concannon responded to the incident Sunday morning in a statement: "The South Carolina Stingrays are disgusted and appalled by last night’s incident involving Jordan Subban. 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."

The Stingrays' NHL and AHL affiliates, the Washington Capitals and the Hershey Bears, also responded to the incident. "We must continue to eradicate this type of disgusting behavior from our game and society," the Capitals wrote on Twitter.

The Icemen announced Sunday afternoon that though the league's investigation of the incident is ongoing, the team would release Panetta "effective immediately."

Saturday night's incident came a day after the AHL suspended Krystof Hrabik of the San Jose Barracuda for 30 games for directing a racist gesture at Tucson Roadrunners forward Boko Imama during a game.

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