Big Matt back for testing road weekend

Matt Nickerson returns from a four match suspension on Saturday. Pic: Steve Gunn
Matt Nickerson returns from a four match suspension on Saturday. Pic: Steve Gunn

Fife Flyers will be bolstered by the return of enforcer Matt Nickerson for a demanding weekend of ice hockey.

The fans’ favourite returns from a four-match suspension to bolster a bench that halted a six-game losing streak with a narrow – but vital – penalty shots win over red-hot Edinburgh Capitals on Sunday.

He will miss Friday’s home game against Cardiff Devils as he completes his ban but will be on the bus for the weekend trips to Nottingham and Coventry.

And Flyers MUST return home with a haul of points to stay in the play-off race.

They suffered a harrowing collapse in front of a near full house on Saturday – a defeat and performance that left coach Todd Dutiaume shellshocked.

The 42-year-old kitted up to help shore up his team, but has vowed to leave his skates in the locker room.

In an emotional post-game media conference, he all but announced he was hanging them up without ever using the ‘retirement’ word.

‘‘Any old player finds it difficult saying it’s completely done,’’ he said. ‘‘Even if you know it in your heart of hearts you don’t want to admit it to yourself. I thought having the extra body would help on Saturday – it didn’t.

‘‘I will be very selective over games I can get back into, if I ever get back into it.’’

Dutiaume admitted Sunday’s win eased the pressure that had been building on the dressing-room at a time when many fans anticipate changes are imminent.

Defenceman Niko Suoraniemi made his debut covering for the injured skipper Kyle Haines and will certainly stay with the team over the festive period – but there are unlikely to be any other new faces this weekend.

Dutiaume is expecting the team to kick on and deliver points from the punishing triple header.

‘‘We have not seen Cardiff this year, so it’s a little bit unknown. But concentrating on ourselves it’s vital we play like we did on Sunday – when we do that we give ourselves a chance to win every hockey game we’re involved in.

“The key for the guys is to come out and take it a period at a time – bring high energy - and don’t let setbacks bother them.

“They’ve been taking things a little too personally – it’s important to remember they’re in a hockey game for 60 minutes and anything can happen.

“We’ll always be a team that makes mistakes but hard work and persistence will see us through.”