A former Fife Flyers goalie has been forced to hang up his skates at the age of just 27 after suffering a serious head injury during a match earlier this year.
John Nicol has been left with no other choice but to end his netminding career early after being struck in the head at Aberdeen Ice Arena in February playing for Kirkcaldy Kestrels.
The former Kirkcaldy High pupil was left unconscious, not breathing, and required 45 minutes of emergency treatment from paramedics following a sickening check-to-the-head from Aberdeen Lynx defenceman Callum McEachran.
Six months on, John has been diagnosed with a severe case of Post Concussion Syndrome, which has affected the entire left side of his body, his concentration and memory.
Devastated John told the Press: “I didn’t want to stop playing, but I’ve had to on medical advice.
“I’ve played ice hockey since I was 12 and really enjoyed it, so it’s very hard to give up.
“I’m left feeling distraught and frustrated that I have been left with no other option
“I get constant headaches, dizzy spells and blurred vision and they’ve cut down my hours at work.
“My general capacity for thinking has also been affected. I’ve been told I’ve got a long road ahead.”
John’s recollection of the incident that ended his career is, unsurprisingly, sketchy.
“I went behind the net and played the puck but as I turned their defenceman left the ice and hit me in the face - that’s all I can remember,” he said.
“From what I’ve been told, my helmet flew off, I spun in the air, and then face-planted the ice.
“I was knocked unconscious and wasn’t breathing for a few minutes - that’s quite scary. I was hooked up on morphene straight away when the ambulance turned up.”
The culprit, Callum McEachran, has since been banned from playing ice hockey indefinitely by the Scottish National League.
“I’m not too bothered about him, I’m more concerned about my own health,” John explained.
“I’m not an angry person. I’m more angry at the situation, nobody should hit a goalie like that.
“They dropped the puck in and everybody went for a line change apart from this one boy.
“I’ve played the puck, watched it, then turned, so he still had time to leave me alone.”
John cites his career highlight as having signed for top senior clubs Dundee Stars and Fife Flyers.
“It was great to be signed by two of the biggest clubs in Scotland,” he said.
“The highlight was probably when I was called onto the bench to be back-up at Elite level for Fife.
“I was back-up for Blair Daly four times, and Garrett Zemlak twice. I got to go down to Sheffield with the team which was a great experience.”