A street fight that led to two UNO hockey players being kicked off the Maverick team came to a legal end Monday with a Douglas County judge dismissing the last of the misdemeanor charges filed against the accused assailants.
Alex Simonson, 23, Matt White, 26, and Preston Hodge, 21, of the University of Nebraska at Omaha had been charged with disorderly conduct in connection with the Aug. 3 fight. Only Simonson, a senior forward, remains with the UNO hockey team.
UNO officials dismissed White and Hodge after investigating allegations that the assault began with racial slurs directed at Lamar Triplett of Omaha. Triplett, 26, is black; the hockey players white.
Triplett was ticketed for misdemeanor assault, but the charge was dismissed before ever going to court.
The charge against Simonson, a senior from Grand Forks, N.D., was dismissed Monday without prejudice after Triplett failed to show up and testify. The charge against Hodge, a Lincoln resident, also was dismissed because Triplett missed an Oct. 16 hearing.
White, from Whittier, Calif., entered a guilty plea on Sept. 10 and was fined $75. He now plays professional hockey for the Ontario (Calif.) Reign, an affiliate of the NHL's Los Angeles Kings.
Reached by telephone at work Monday, Triplett said he didn't know he was needed in court. But, he added, he wouldn't have shown up anyway.
“I just look at it as they were punished enough and I'm glad it's all over,” Triplett said. “I didn't even want (White and Hodge) kicked off the team and their scholarships taken away. I think it was just one of those things where the alcohol was doing the talking.”
Defense attorney Steve Olson said Simonson only became involved in the incident near 10th and Harney Streets because he went to Hodge's aid when the freshman defenseman was knocked unconscious. Simonson didn't attempt to assault Triplett or use racial slurs, his attorney said after Monday's court hearing.
“We were in court today with witnesses prepared to defend Alex,” Olson said. “The only thing that he did was go to the aid of his teammate, who was knocked out.”
Triplett told Omaha police at the time of the fight that a man – later identified as Hodge – confronted him with racial slurs as he was walking toward the Stadium Bar with two friends about 1:30 a.m. Witnesses told police someone with Hodge swung at Triplett and missed.
Triplett punched Hodge, who was knocked unconscious when his head hit the ground, according to a police report. Police then arrived to break up the incident.