Enforcer Nickerson's 20-game ban after altercation with fan
Matt Nickerson, Fife Flyers' former enforcer, has been hit by a 20-game ban after an off ice incident saw him aim a punch at a fan as he left the ice.
The suspension by the Department of Player safety (DOPS) effectively ends his season with MK Lightning.
It’s the single biggest punishment handed out to a player this season.
Nickerson – a huge favourite with fans during his Fife days – was hammered with a 14-game suspension for his altercation off the ice, plus a further six for his conduct on it as the red mists descended at the end of the game against Guildford Flames.
The powerful defenceman was handed two match penalties for abuse of the officials and engaging with a spectator.
Lightning’s game against Flames was already over when an incident occurred in front of the net, one which Nickerson sought to get involved in.
DOPS statement outlined the reasons why they have effectively brought the curtain down in his season with a massive ban.
“With the game concluding an incident occurred in front of the Guildford net.
“With the original players who concluded the game still on the ice, Matt Nickerson left the bench to enter the area of the incident.
“Believing the game is finished is not a reason for any player to leave the players bench to engage in a physical altercation.;’’
DOPS said that ‘‘at no time is a player allowed to skate at, intimidate or physical demean an opposing player whilst under the restraint of a game official.’’
The statement continued: “Nickerson left the players bench to entertain a possible physical altercation with an opposing player.
‘‘In his lengthy venture to engage an opponent, Nickerson did not follow instructions from the game officials, and physically broke free of the linesman to try to engage an opposing player on multiple occasions.
“Considering Nickerson had no regard or respect for the game officials and left the players bench for the purpose of engaging in a physical altercation with an opposing player, supplementary discipline is required Nickerson is suspended for six games for abuse of official.’’
But the biggest part of his ban for was for his outburst as he left the ice – and it was clearly caught on video.
The footage shows him stepping off the ice and taking a swing where fans were standing next to the gate.
DOPS stated: “While leaving the playing surface, but still located on the ice, Nickerson takes his stick and moves it from his right hand to his left hand.
“This is the start of an action that sets-up Nickerson for a physical motion with his right hand.
‘‘It also is an indication that there is premeditated thought on Nickerson’s part to do something physical.
“While stepping off the ice, with the gate directly to his right, Nickerson begins a winding up motion with his right arm.
“Unsuspecting to the fan who is located behind the gate, Nickerson delivers a forceful backhand punch directly to the head of the fan.’’
DOPS said any incident off the ice involving a fan ‘‘is treated with an entirely different level of severity.’’
“At no time is a player allowed to engage with a fan. It is the responsibility of the player not to make physical contact with a fan.
“In this case, Nickerson engaged and physically demeaned the fan of his own free will.
“DOPS has suspended Matt Nickerson for 14 games for engaging with a spectator.”
Lighting cannot dress another import player during Nickerson’s six-game suspension, but they xcan do so fore the remainder of his ban.