EXETER, N.H. — A York, Maine, facing trial on a charge of punching a youth hockey referee after a game in Exeter, N.H., has pleaded guilty to a lesser charge.

Forty-six-year-old Stuart Santoro pleaded guilty Thursday to a violation-level simple assault charge instead of the misdemeanor originally filed in connection with the January incident at Phillips Exeter Academy, where 11- and 12-year-olds from York and Dover were playing.

Police say Santoro, whose son plays on the York team, punched the referee after yelling at him. Santoro’s lawyer said Santoro attempted to diffuse a situation between the referee and three other parents, and it turned physical after the referee made a sexual remark about Santoro’s wife, the Portsmouth Herald reported.

Santoro was fined and told to have no contact with the referee.