American Nickerson Hit By 20-Match Elite League Ban

Matt Nickerson, the former Belfast Giants and Fife Flyers enforcer, has been suspended for 20 matches by Elite League officials.

The 6ft 4ins American, who is playing for Milton Keynes Lightning this season, has been banned after two incidents during a match against Guildford Flames.

The punishment imposed by the department of player safety effectively ends Nickerson’s season.

DOPS took action after Nickerson, who has played against Cardiff Devils many times, was given two match penalties for abuse of officials and engaging with a spectator.

Their statement says: “With the game concluding an incident occurred in front of the Guildford net.

“With the original players that concluded the game still on the ice, Milton Keynes #50 Matt Nickerson left the players 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.

“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.

“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.

“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.

“Fighting off the ice surface does not have the same rules as fighting on the ice surface and hitting a fan off the ice surface 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.”

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