Michael Higgins

Michael Higgins

A Northeast Generals defenseman faces simple assault charges, accused of causing one fan to suffer a concussion and injuring another at 1st Summit Arena @ Cambria County War Memorial on Saturday following a playoff game against the Johnstown Tomahawks.

Johnstown police confirmed five counts, three of them misdemeanors, were filed Thursday against Michael Higgins, 19, of Needham, Massachusetts.

Police have been investigating the incident since Saturday night. A man was hospitalized after being struck by a folding metal “scissor gate” during an altercation between fans and the visiting team following the Tomahawks’ loss.

“He had been hit in the head (with) the the scissor gate ... and had initially been knocked unconscious,” Johnstown police Officer Amber Noel wrote in an affidavit filed Thursday.

A minor was also struck, but only suffered what appeared to be “superficial” injuries, she said.

The gate serves as a corridor to the visitors’ locker room before and after games and between periods.

According to police, Higgins told investigators he “hit” the gate after someone cursed and spit at him – but video footage only showed Higgins hitting the gate, and witnesses at the scene said they saw nothing beforehand that deserved the reaction he took, police said.

Northeast Generals officials have already issued an organization-wide apology for the team’s actions Saturday, which followed a game that ended with penalties against players on both teams and, according to some fans, taunting between Generals players and some Tomahawks fans after time expired.

Generals officials also confirmed a Northeast play-by-play announcer was reprimanded for airing a profanity in response to the actions of a few fans as players were exiting the ice.

Higgins was the only person charged in Saturday’s incident. He faces two counts of simple assault, one count of harassment and two summary citations for harassment in the case.

The teams are competing in the North American Hockey League playoffs.

After a 4-2 loss Thursday at the New England Sports Village in Attleboro, Massachusetts, the Tomahawks and Generals are tied at 2 in the best-of-5 series. The teams return to play at 7 p.m. Saturday at 1st Summit Arena @ Cambria County War Memorial.

David Hurst is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at (814) 532-5053. Follow him on Twitter @TDDavidHurst and Instagram @TDDavidHurst.

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