ORONO – University of Maine freshman forward Nicholas Payson, 20, has been suspended indefinitely from the men’s hockey team and charged with aggravated assault following an incident last weekend.
At about 5 p.m. Monday a man reported to Orono Police that he’d been in a fight at 2:30 a.m. Sunday while at a party at Washburn Place, an apartment complex in Orono, according to Orono Police Capt. Josh Ewing.
The fight was over a girl who would talk to the victim and then to Payson.
“This annoyed the two of them, [and] at one point the victim said something across the room to Payson and his friends,” Ewing said.
According to the victim and another witness, Payson walked across the room, punched the victim in the face and then put him in a headlock.
The next day the victim’s face was numb and swollen, so he went to the hospital where doctors said he has a broken eye socket. The victim is scheduled to meet with a surgeon next week to see if surgery will be needed.
When police located Payson on campus, he confirmed he had scuffled with the man and elbowed him.
Payson, who is originally from Veazie, was arrested and charged with aggravated assault because of the severity of the injury, Ewing said. Payson has been released from Penobscot County Jail but is scheduled to appear March 14 at Penobscot County Superior Court. He could face up to 10 years in jail and a $20,000 fine.
The UM dean of students is reviewing the incident to determine if Payson violated the student conduct code. Police also are continuing to investigate the incident in hopes of finding additional witnesses.
Payson, a former standout football and hockey athlete at Bangor High School, hasn’t appeared in a game this season because he was being red-shirted so he could retain four years of eligibility beginning next fall.
He was a two-time first-team All-State Class A hockey selection before leaving after his junior year to spend two seasons with the Portland Junior Pirates. He had 23 goals and 17 assists in 40 games for the Junior Pirates last season.
He registered 82 goals and 59 assists for 141 points in 45 games during his last two seasons at Bangor High.