'You never want to make those decisions' says Lightning boss

Matt Nickerson'Pic: Tony Sargent
Matt Nickerson'Pic: Tony Sargent

It has been a tough 10 days for Lightning head coach Pete Russell.

With his injury-ravaged squad facing three games in five days last week, he had to deal with Matt Nickerson’s unsavoury actions as he punched a fan in the aftermath of their defeat to Guildford Flames - sacking the defenceman last Thursday.

Pete Russell'Pic :Tony Sargent

Pete Russell'Pic :Tony Sargent

WATCH: The moment Matt Nickerson punches a fan

His side then lost back-to-back games against Manchester Storm and Guildford again. But they restored some pride with a much-needed 3-0 win over bottom club Edinburgh Capitals.

Nickerson’s reaction gained national notoriety for all the wrong reasons, but Russell said the club had to move swiftly to resolve the matter.

“You never want to make those decisions,” he said. “It’s still a touchy subject but it’s something we want to forget.

“I think it was something out of character for Matt - he’s a great person.

“It’s a tricky situation, but it’s a family sport. But everyone forgets we’re all human, we make mistakes, but the club dealt with it and hats off to them for that.

“Of course he (regrets it) - it was totally out of character. Everyone knows he’s a good person.

“He was a big person on and off the ice so we’ll miss him massively.

“And we’re carrying a lot of injuries too.

“It has been a really testing season all year, and this last week has been a really tough one.”

Despite initially taking to the Elite League like a duck to water, Lightning have struggled for consistency of late, and have dropped to second from bottom, though with a significant advantage over the Capitals below.

Their slump hasn’t helped by injuries to key players either. Denny Kearney though is nearing a return, as is Tommy Mele, while netminder Miika Wiikman made a tentative return to the ice for training last week too.

“It has been a wild season, we’ve had no luck either,” continued Russell.

“But the dressing room has stuck together and our fans have been sensational.

“We’re getting bodies back, but it has been so pleasing to see how much the other guys have been put in.

“It is tough when this happens in sport, mentally, and with three games in five days, they’ve done the club proud.”