Frustrated at ban but I won’t quit on team

Matt Nickerson, Fife Flyers. Pic: Steve Gunn
Matt Nickerson, Fife Flyers. Pic: Steve Gunn

Fife Flyers defenceman Matt Nickerson has spoken of his shock and disappointment following his 12 game ban from ice hockey.

Nickerson admitted he was expecting a suspension after his match penalty for excessive roughness in Saturday’s victory over Braehead Clan.

He accepted he would be in trouble after dragging Clan skater Chris Frank to the ice and continung to attack him after the linesman’s instruction to stop.

However, the severity of the punishment has left the 28-year-old American devastated.

“I’m shocked, disappointed and frustrated all in one,” Nickerson told the Press.

“I understand I carried on when the linesmen stepped in and I shouldn’t have been doing that.

“I was caught up in the moment of trying to protect my goalie who had just been cross-checked in the head.

“Their coach went on TV and said a lot of things that weren’t true, maybe he was trying to put the worst possible spin on it.

“There was an accusation of eye-gouging - I didn’t - and I didn’t choke him either.

“I’ve now got a suspension that’s over the top so maybe the game plan worked for him.”

It is the second time Nickerson has had additional games added to a match penalty, which carry an automatic one-game ban.

He was banned for four games for cross-checking and slew-footing a Cardiff Devils player during his Flyers debut in September.

He also received a match penalty for excessive roughness in a match against Hull in October but no further games were added to the suspension.

“Since my first game I’ve shown that I haven’t hurt any players,” Nickerson explained.

“I haven’t done any dirty head checks or gone out to hurt someone with malicious intent.

“If guys want to fight I’m very accommodating - I do it the right way and do it fair.

“I’ve never cross-checked a goalie in the head and the fact he (Frank) didn’t get in any trouble is tough for me.

“The biggest problem for me is not being out there with the boys.

“There’s a big stretch of conference games coming up and missing 12 of them is huge.”

Nickerson still hopes the league will reconsider the length of suspension, and he suggested a face-to-face meeting with the disciplinary chief would help his cause.

“I’d like to sit down and talk to Moray to see if we could maybe come to an understanding,” he said.

“I’ve never met him so it would be good to see the face behind the name and hear where he’s coming from - and maybe he could hear where I’m coming from.

“I don’t know if maybe an appeal could still work. We’re waiting to see how it plays out.”

Despite his frustration, Nickerson revealed that he will not walk out on UK hockey, or the Fife Flyers.

“I wouldn’t do that to the guys in the room - or to Dutes and Danny,” he stressed.

“They’ve backed me through this situation and that says a lot about about their character.

“I’m grateful for that, and I wouldn’t back out on my team mates. I’m invested in this season.

“I can deal with the officiating and other teams fans yelling at me.

‘‘It comes with the territory.”