Adam Johnson: Crowds gather to pay tribute to ice hockey player

Adam Johnson memorial
Flowers were laid outside the Motorpoint Arena

Crowds of people have gathered in memory of an ice hockey player who died after his neck was cut during a match.

Nottingham Panthers player Adam Johnson suffered the injury from a skate worn by Sheffield Steelers player Matt Petgrave on 28 October.

The 29-year-old was taken to hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Fans and mourners came together at the Motorpoint Arena in Nottingham to pay tribute to Johnson.

The incident has been described as a "freak accident" by the Panthers.

Pittsburgh Penguins left wing Adam Johnson (47)
Nottingham Panthers forward Adam Johnson was playing at the Utilita Arena in Sheffield when he was fatally injured

On Saturday afternoon, Panthers players and staff spent time reflecting on their memories of Johnson while signing the books of condolence.

Fans were invited on to the ice, which was carpeted, to sign the books.

A two-minute silence then took place.

The club said local mental health charities would be at the foyer of the arena "for those that want to have a conversation".

Motorpoint Arena
Motorpoint Arena

Fan Michelle Hallam described her experience of the incident, adding she was there with her son and his friends - along with 40 pupils from their school - for their first Panthers game.

"At first I don't think they realised the seriousness of what had happened," she told BBC Radio Nottingham.

"I'd made sure that they put their heads down and they weren't actually watching everything that was then unfolding on the ice."

Ms Hallam said she returned to the arena on Monday to lay flowers, and then again with her son "because he wanted to see all the tributes".

"He was on edge a bit just walking near the arena," she said.

She added hopefully in time, they will watch another ice hockey game with her son's friends and family.

Fans at the Motorpoint Arena
Fans at the Motorpoint Arena
Adam Johnson memorial
Inside the stadium, fans queued to sign books of condolence

Ronnie Woolley, a Sheffield Steelers fan who was also at the match, said it had been a "really hard week".

"Everybody's in shock because it was an absolute tragedy," he said.

Mr Woolley said he returned to the arena on Monday and again for the gathering on Saturday with his partner to "pay our respects", along with other Steelers fans.

"It's the least we can do and say goodbye to Adam," he said. "Obviously, he wasn't a Steeler, he was a Panther, but that doesn't matter.

"Everybody's coming together because ice hockey fans are like one big family."

Ronnie Woolley with his partner
Sheffield Steelers supporter Ronnie Woolley (right) said ice hockey fans were "like one big family"

Speaking on KSTP-TV - a local news station based in Minnesota in the US - Johnson's aunt Kari Johnson said he was planning to propose to his partner Ryan Wolfe.

An inquest into Johnson's death opened and adjourned on Friday, which heard he was formally identified by Ms Wolfe.

An official fundraising page, launched by the club "with the permission of Adam's family", has so far raised more than £45,000.

The fund will support local charitable activities in his home town of Hibbing, Minnesota.

Johnson's funeral will take place in the US on Sunday, according to an obituary posted on the website of Dougherty Funeral Home in Hibbing.

The obituary said: "Adam had a quiet confidence about him and was never boastful.

"He was never looking to be the centre of attention, but rather he preferred to listen to others and do what he could to make them feel important."

South Yorkshire Police has launched an investigation into the incident, which they say "is likely to take some time".

Adam Johnson memorial
Hundreds of people have gathered to pay tribute to Adam Johnson

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