I have always been drawn to goalies, their helmets and the stories behind them are fascinating and each one is as unique to the person wearing them. They are the only piece of equipment that can be personalised and that makes them interesting, but what is more fascinating still is their evolution from something as simple as leather across the nose and cheeks, as worn by the Montreal Canadiens George Hainsworth, to the full head masks we are used to seeing today.
On the 1st February players from the Manchester Storm headed down to a local donation centre to find out about the NHS Give Blood, Save a Life initiative and to meet a young boy living with Sickle Cell Anemia.
Waiting outside the dressing room for another player, I was asked to interview Nickerson for this month’s magazine. No problem, I quickly replied. It was an on the fly interview and honestly I didn’t know much about the man, aside from the fact he’d come from Belfast and was wearing a number 50 on his back.
When he finally came out and I saw all 6ft 4, 234lbs of him, it was obvious to see why he is a bit of a fan favourite here in Milton Keynes. Despite his somewhat imposing size, he had a ready smile, was hugely approachable and was happy to talk to any fan who had taken the time to wait for him, including my four year old daughter. She looked up at the giant of a man with a mix of awe and wonder.
“At least she isn’t crying?” A small shrug and an amused grin from the big guy. “That’s the usual reaction.” He laughs, but what he doesn’t know is her dad has a full beard and is 6ft 2 himself, Matt Nickerson was nothing scary for that little fan! She actually thought he was really awesome.
We move off the concourse to talk about the upcoming visit to Belfast and how he’s adapting to the different way of life in Milton Keynes.
“It’s different here. In Belfast I lived downtown so I could bike everywhere but here I live outside of the city and so I have to drive. I live in the countryside back home in a town of 7,000 people so it’s pretty small.” Definitely taking some getting used to then.
His wife has newly arrived in the city and while he has found some nice pubs to frequent and the casino, he’s looking for somewhere a little nicer to take her out for dinner and has said if anyone has any suggestions to please tweet him (@theMdot50) with your recommendations!
We move on to talking about Milton Keynes upcoming trip to Belfast. “I’m very much looking forward to going back. I enjoyed my time there in the rink, they have a good fan base and I love how we’ve beaten them up here [in Milton Keynes] once this season, so I’d like to make it twice.”
And how about that Barmy Army? We know Lightning fans like to travel in their droves to games, a recent trip to Nottingham showed me that but I asked Matt what he thought the fans might enjoy in Belfast, other than the hockey of course! “Oh I think they’d love a night out in Belfast. I’d recommend the Harp bar for sure. It’s not hard to get to and they have live music and whiskey. Like, 16 and 32 year old whiskeys, it’s great.”
If you want to go and try out Matt’s recommendation, it’s a 15 minute walk from the SSE Arena and the address for your Nav is: Harp Bar, 35 Hill Street, Belfast BT1 2LB. Let him know how you like it if you do go and try it!
This article was destined for release in February’s issue of Lightning Strike magazine. However, with the release of Nickerson from the Milton Keynes Lightning on 1/2/2018 I was given permission to publish it here.