SHEFFIELD STEELERS will head into the second leg of their Challenge Cup quarter-final with Edinburgh Capitals firm favourites after securing a 2-2 draw in Scotland on Wednesday night.
A 58th-minute strike from Guillaume Desbiens completed an impressive night for the Canadian forward having scored just after the halfway point to level for the visitors for a first time at Murrayfield.
Steelers made the trip north without injured Swedish duo Andreas Valdix and Yared Hagos – the latter sitting out after taking a hit to the head from Belfast Giants’ David Rutherford on Sunday night in Steelers’ 5-1 triumph.
After a tight opening spell, it was Edinburgh who broke the deadlock at 15.53 when Jacob Johnston fired past Ervins Mustukovs.
Steelers created more chances during the second period and got their rewards when Desbiens levelled at 33.10 with help from Zack Fitzgerald.
A controversial second goal for the Capitals came just over three minutes into the third period when referee Pavel Halas ruled that Pavel Vorobyev’s strike had crossed the line, despite protests from the visitors.
With less than three minutes remaining, Desbiens struck again – captain Jonathan Phillips posting his 450th EIHL assist in the process ahead of Saturday night’s second leg at Ice Sheffield (7pm).
As anticipated, Belfast’s Rutherford has been banned for two matches for checking to the head on Hagos. He was given an initial 5+game penalty which, on review, has been upgraded to a match penalty.
In their statement, the Elite League’s Department for Player Safety said: “We considered a number of points in our decision-making process, including the speed that Rutherford was travelling and the fact he had time to not make the hit. There was also an injury on the play.
“There is no such thing as a clean hit to the head and with all of the above in mind Rutherford was given an additional game for a total of two match ban.”
Rutherford – who himself was stretchered from the ice in Sunday’s defeat in Sheffield following a brief altercation with Steelers’ Desbiens following the hit on Hagos – will miss this weekend’s games against Nottingham Panthers and Manchester Storm.
Yorkshire Post - Sport
Get the latest news from The Yorkshire Post on social media
Like the Yorkshire Post Sport Facebook page
Follow @YPSport on Twitter
See our snaps at @YPSport on Instagram