Fife Flyers’ enforcer Matt Nickerson will miss the crucial midweek clash with Dundee Stars through suspension.
The teams go head to head at Fife Ice Arena on Tuesday night, but the big defenceman will be in the stands serving a one-game ban after picking up as match penalty for making obscene gestures at the end of Sunday’s game in Cardiff, which Flyers won 3-2 in overtime.
The match finished in controversy as Devils were awarded a penalty shot in the dying seconds after netminder Kevin Regan was penalised for dislodging the nets - the equaliser forced overtime where Flyers won the game, but it also meant the Welsh side claimed a precious point.
That meant they stayed four ahead of Fife instead of three, with the Kirkcaldy side having a game in hand.
Nickerson’s actions came in a heated post-game and now they have to face Stars without him. The penalty and suspension was confirmed by chief referee, Moray Hanson, on Monday.
Fears the club would also be without other players through suspension following the stormy conclusion in Cardiff appear to have receded, but the big man’s absence will almost certainly be a factor as Jeff Hutchins brings his team to town.
Flyers are walking a tightrope with virtually no margin for error as they continue to stalk Devils for eighth spot and a place in the post-season play-offs.
They are, without doubt, on a hot streak - seven wins in eight starts - and have thrilled fans with some stirring performances of late, but they have to balance that with a more disciplined approach if they are to hit their target; a fact acknowledged by assistant coach Danny Stewart - one of the players to receive a misconduct penalty against Devils.
He said: “Yes emotions ran high at the end of the game. Some of the calls were not justified and some were - I’m not going to sit here and list excuses, but these games are being played at high emotion.
‘‘We will address this with our guys. We can’t afford to lose guys during this stretch and that includes myself. Whether I feel it was deserved or not I need to set a better precedent as associate coach. ‘‘
>> Tuesday’s game will be live Tweeted by the Press. Follow @fifefreepressed for updates
>> Tweet YOUR match verdicts to Matt Elder, head of sport @mattelder_FFP
>> Read exlusive interviews in our ice hockey round-up in Thursday’s Fife Free Press.