American ice hockey player Adam Johnson has died following a “freak accident” on the ice as he played for English side Nottingham Panthers, the team said in a statement.
In the second period of the team’s Challenge Cup match against the Sheffield Steelers on Saturday, Johnson appeared to suffer a serious neck injury after colliding with a Sheffield player.
Nottingham Panthers described the 29-year-old as an “outstanding ice hockey player,” and said everyone at the club was heartbroken.
“The Nottingham Panthers are truly devastated to announce that Adam Johnson has tragically passed away following a freak accident at the game in Sheffield last night,” the team said on Sunday.
“The Panthers would like to thank everyone who rushed to support Adam last night in the most testing of circumstances.”
Fans had been asked to leave the arena in Sheffield “due to a major medical emergency,” the Panthers had posted on social media on Saturday. BBC Sport reported that 8,000 spectators were in attendance.
The Panthers play in England’s top league, the Elite Ice Hockey League, which announced that all games scheduled to take place on Sunday had been postponed.
“Many of us will have found Saturday’s events very distressing,” the league said in a statement. “Please take care of yourselves, and each other.”
Born in Hibbing, Minnesota, forward Johnson started his professional career in the American Hockey League before progressing to the NHL where he played for the Pittsburgh Penguins, featuring in 13 matches over two years and scoring four points.
In October 2019, Johnson scored a goal against the Minnesota Wild in the Penguins’ 7-4 victory.
“The National Hockey League family mourns the passing of former Pittsburgh Penguin Adam Johnson. Our prayers and deepest condolences go to his family, friends and teammates,” the NHL said in a statement.
Johnson also played in Sweden and Germany before joining the Panthers for the 2023-24 season.