ELMIRA, NY (WETM)- Former hockey players are now speaking out about what they know about Nikita Andrusenko, the man arrested at First Arena on a rape warrant.
The players speaking out are saying that Mammoth officials knew a lot more than what they are leading us to believe. We first broke this story to you on January 29, 2023, which is when Andrusenko was picked up by the Elmira Police Department at First Arena where he was seen skating on the ice.
The following day, January 30, 2023, Elmira Mammoth Owner and First Arena tenet, Steve Donner, agreed to an interview. In the interview, Donner told 18 News that Andrusenko made him aware of an ‘incident’ during rookie camp in late September early August of 2022.
“He was not involved in any practices involving the Mammoth, was never signed by the Mammoth, was not involved with the Mammoth whatsoever,” Donner said, talking about Andrusenko. That is true, Andrusenko never officially played with the Mammoth.
“He was part of team breakfasts, lunches, when he was on the ice, he was wearing a mammoth jersey. So, as far as I was concerned, he was another player at camp,” says Brandon Buchan. Buchan has played with the Federal Prospects Hockey League (FPHL) and was in Elmira for the rookie and main camp for the Mammoth. So, he skated alongside Andrusenko for that time period. There is even a picture on the Mammoth Instagram that Andrusenko can be seen in wearing Mammoth colors.
18 News was able to confirm that, at some point, a memo was sent out to teams letting them know to not sign Andrusenko due to the warrant out for his arrest. When 18 News asked Donner about it, he claims that there was never anything sent out from the FPHL saying to not sign Andrusenko or any other player.
We spoke to somebody who asked to remain anonymous out of fear of retaliation. This person telling us that Donner was fully aware of the severity of the warrant, even though he said he wasn’t.
Andrusenko continued practicing with the other players during main camp up until people from the league started to show up to First Arena. “He was off the ice; I would say about half the time and on the ice half the time. It just seemed like maybe he was picking and choosing when he went on the ice or maybe somebody was picking and choosing for him,” said Buchan. A source close to Andrusenko, who also asked to remain private, told 18 News that there were days where Andrusenko was told to not come to First Arena until he was told otherwise.
When people from the league started visiting the arena, Andrusenko began playing with an adult league sometimes. “He would start skating every day before practice with the assistant coach and they had him practicing with the Junior Enforcers,” said the source that asked to remain anonymous.
“I mean, he wasn’t employed by us, he wasn’t paid by us. Obviously, he can live wherever he wants to live,” said Donner when we interviewed him on January 30, 2023. However, according to multiple sources, that wasn’t true. Andrusenko came to Elmira because he was promised a lot of things by the higher-ups in the Mammoth organization. A source close to Andrusenko told 18 News that the rink would pay him for cleaning up around the rink, they even provided him with a place to stay.
18 News reached out to Donner multiple times via email and phone after learning this new information, but he has yet to respond. 18 News is continuing to learn more and will keep following this story and bring you the latest as it develops.
Andrusenko did have a court appearance Wednesday morning, where he did decide to waive his extradition which means in the coming days or week, he will make the trip back to Utah to face the charges against him.