Former Hibbing, UMD hockey player Adam Johnson dies after 'freak accident' during game in England

A hockey player skates in an NHL game
Adam Johnson of the Pittsburgh Penguins skates against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on March 25, 2019 in New York City. Johnson, who played for Hibbing High School and the University of Minnesota Duluth, died after being injured in a game in England on Saturday.
Bruce Bennett | Getty Images file

Updated: 9:32 a.m.

Former Hibbing High School and University of Minnesota Duluth hockey player Adam Johnson died after a “freak accident” during a game in England on Saturday, his club said.

The 29-year-old, who also appeared in 13 NHL games with the Pittsburgh Penguins, was playing for the Nottingham Panthers in a Challenge Cup game against the Sheffield Steelers when he suffered a slashed neck during the second period of the game at Sheffield’s Utilita Arena.

“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 Sunday morning.

“The Panthers would like to send our thoughts and condolences to Adam’s family, his partner, and all his friends at this extremely difficult time. Everyone at the club including players, staff, management and ownership are heartbroken at the news of Adam’s passing."

Johnson spent 13 games over parts of the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons playing for the Pittsburgh Penguins in the National Hockey League before spending the 2020-21 season in Sweden with the Malmo Redhawks. He had a goal and three assists for the Penguins.

“The Pittsburgh Penguins join the entire hockey world in mourning the life of Adam Johnson, whose life tragically ended far too soon,” the Penguins said Sunday morning in a statement. “We offer our deepest condolences to Adam’s family and friends, as well as all of Adam’s past and present teammates and coaches. Adam will always be part of the Penguins family.”

A hockey player skates on a rink
Minnesota Duluth hockey player Adam Johnson skates against Providence College during a NCAA Division I Men's Ice Hockey Northeast Regional Championship semifinal game on March 25, 2016 in Worcester, Mass.
Richard T Gagnon | Getty Images file

Johnson played college hockey at Minnesota Duluth, helping the Bulldogs reach two NCAA tournaments. He scored an overtime game-winner in the 2017 tournament, sending UMD to the Frozen Four by beating Boston University.

“We are deeply devastated to learn last evening of the passing of Adam Johnson. Adam was loved and admired by his teammates, coaches, and staff,” the UMD men’s hockey staff said in a statement. “As talented as he was on the ice, he was even a better person. Adam remained connected to the program, and for our time with him we are eternally grateful. Adam, we love you, we will miss you.”

In high school, Johnson was captain of the Hibbing-Chisholm team in his junior and senior years, and was a finalist for the Minnesota Mr. Hockey Award in the 2012-13 season.

He also played for three American Hockey League clubs during his career, was in Germany with the Augsburg Panthers in 2022-23, then agreed to join Nottingham for the 2023-24 campaign.

“Our thoughts are also with the fans and staff of both clubs, especially those who attended or were following the game, who will be devastated following today’s news," the team added.

“The Panthers would like to thank everyone who rushed to support Adam last night in the most testing of circumstances. Adam, our number 47, was not only an outstanding ice hockey player, but also a great teammate and an incredible person with his whole life ahead of him. The club will dearly miss him and will never ever forget him."

The UK Elite League announced that the three games scheduled for Sunday in Belfast, Fife and Guildford have been postponed following Johnson’s death.

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