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Video: Hockey Player Released After Punching Fan

Matt Nickerson was a third-round draft pick by the Dallas Stars. 

A hockey player in England has been released by his team after he punched a fan on his way off the ice last weekend. 

Matt Nickerson, an American defenseman with Milton Keynes Lightning in the U.K.’s Elite Ice Hockey League, was suspended 20 games after an incident in Sunday’s game against the Guildford Flames. 

Nickerson was ejected for leaving the bench to join a fight. As he skated to the dressing room, he leveled a fan with a backhand punch. (He received a six-game suspension for abuse of an official and fourteen games for “engaging with a spectator.”)

The league announced the suspension on Wednesday and the Lightning released him one day later. 

“Ice Hockey is a family sport and it is unacceptable that at any time supporters are threatened or made to feel unsafe,” the team said in a statement. “As a club we do not condone what happened and Matt has been held accountable for his actions by both the Elite League Department of Player Safety and by the club.”

The 33-year-old Connecticut native was a third-round draft pick by the Dallas Stars in 2003 and has spent the last decade bouncing around Europe. He has played in the EIHL since 2013, first with the Fife Flyers and Belfast Giants before signing this season with Milton Keynes.