Fife Flyers: enforcer Matt Nickerson’s 2014 beard shave to raise £5000 for CHAS

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It was nine years ago this week that one of ice hockey’s most fearsome enforcers took on a whole new, much softer look - simply by shaving off his beard.

Hundreds of Fife Flyers fans turned out to see the transformation, and, in doing so, helped the Canadian defenceman raise a staggering £5000 for CHAS.

April 10, 2014 saw Nickerson, one of the most colourful and popular characters of the club’s EIHL era, stage his charity shave at Fife Ice Arena.

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It came post-season, and the player was blown away by the response, and the turn out - the sum raised left him speechless.

Matt Nickerson's  beard shave for charity (Pics: Steve Gunn)Matt Nickerson's  beard shave for charity (Pics: Steve Gunn)
Matt Nickerson's beard shave for charity (Pics: Steve Gunn)

Without his trademark ZZ Top style beard he looked a much softer figure, underlining how much a part of his armour his facial hair was.

On the ice? He was fearsome.

Fife fans had seen nothing like this before; an enforcer who really enforced. Nickerson made Mike Rowe look like a pussycat. He was box office gold as the fans adopted the ‘fear the beard’ slogan, and he loved it.

By his presence alone, he could intimate opposition players – some players in this league were genuinely scared of him.

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It took him barely 15 minutes into a jet-lagged debut for Fife to earn a three-game ban after levelling Cardiff Devils’ Andrew Lord at a face-off – a step too far after twice circling him like a shark and tapping him on the skate to say ‘let’s go.

His fight with Kevin Bergen of Braehead Clan produced that iconic image of Nickerson standing with his arm aloft in centre ice like a gladiator, holding on to a player whose legs had buckled. Rarely has the rink been so electrified. Enforcing at its most effective.

It’s hard to think of many players who could command such interest.

His first season in Fife was packed with highs and lows, but he clearly enjoyed the camaraderie of his team-mates where he was a big character in a noisy room, and the buzz which followed him around town.

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The late skates saw him swarmed by young fans, at school visits he was the only guy they wanted to see – the fearsome giant who, deep down, wasn’t really that fearsome after all. Except when he stepped on the ice.

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