By Associated Press
Posted Apr. 8, 2005 @ 2:00 am
Updated Dec 18, 2010 at 11:55 PM
DENNIS, Mass. – The coach of Barnstable High School’s hockey team is charged with attacking and beating a referee who sent him to the penalty box during a men’s hockey league playoff game, police said.
Michael Nugnes, 36, of Barnstable, was arrested Wednesday at an ice rink in South Dennis. The referee, William Ahern, 48, of West Bridgewater, was treated for head and facial injuries at Cape Cod Hospital and released later that night.
At Tony Kent Arena on Wednesday night, Nugnes and a group of men were playing in an adult recreational hockey league where checking players against the boards isn’t allowed.
With around 20 minutes left in the game, Nugnes started to berate Ahern for calling a penalty on him for tripping, police said. Nugnes served his penalty and returned to his team’s bench.
When Ahern warned him to stop yelling, Nugnes hopped back onto the ice, skated over to Ahern and tripped him from behind, according to police. Ahern told police that Nugnes jumped on top of him, gouged his eyes, then ripped off his helmet and banged his head on the ice three or four times.
Witnesses said Ahern briefly lost consciousness, according to Dennis Police Captain William Monahan. Other players had to forcibly remove Nugnes from Ahern, Monahan said.
“The fans and the other players on both teams were shocked and dismayed,” he added. “It was something they’ve never seen before.”
An off-duty rink employee summoned police to the arena, where they arrested Nugnes on assault charges. The game was immediately called, with Nugnes’ team losing 2-to-1, according to Monahan.
Nugnes pleaded innocent and was released on his own recognizance following his arraignment Thursday in Orleans District Court. He is due back in court April 27 for a pretrial hearing. In the meantime, a judge ordered him to stay away from Ahern.
Nugnes’ attorney, J. Drew Segadelli, said he has been told that Ahearn may have played a role in starting the fight.
Segadelli said Nugnes discussed the possibility of resigning with school officials on Thursday but has not submitted a letter of resignation. Segadelli said Nugnes does not want to bring disrepute on the school, which he attended and where he has long been hockey and lacrosse coach.
“If these allegations prove to do any of that he’s going to step up to the plate and have some accountability,” Segadelli said.
Barnstable interim superintendent Tom McDonald could not be reached for comment Thursday night.