SHEFFIELD STEELERS may be spending Christmas at the top of the Elite League standings but any festive joy will be tempered by fears that forward Robert Dowd’s season may be over.
A four-point weekend against Glasgow Clan ensured Aaron Fox’s team remain ahead of title rivals Cardiff Devils and Belfast Giants, but it is the serious injury suffered by British forward Dowd that was of most concern to his team-mates and the club’s staff and fans.
The 31-year-old was admitted to the city’s Northern General Hospital after Saturday’s 5-3 victory over the Glasgow, remaining in hospital overnight and will undergo surgery on a dislocated shoulder and damaged AC joint on Monday or Tuesday.
"It's a big blow," said head coach Fox ahead of his team’s 5-1 win in Glasgow on Sunday night. “Our focus right now is getting Dowdy the best possible treatment and ensuring he is home for Christmas Day.”
On the ice, the Steelers made sure they didn’t miss Dowd’s scoring prowess when easing to a second win in as many nights against Zack Fitzgerald’s team.
Lucas Sandström tipped Marc-Olivier Vallerand’s shot at 7.05 on the powerplay to give the visitors the lead in Glasgow, the visitors doubling their advantage at 17.30 after fine work from Nicolai Lemtyugov to get free and slot past Patrick Killeen.
Michael Davies made it 3-0 on the man advantage at 24.48, the night getting even better when Anthony DeLuca fired home at the back post at 37.38 - again on the power play.
Matt Beca got the Clan back on the board in the 47th minute, but the Steelers were to have the final say when Davies grabbed his second - a fourth power play strike of the night - at 52.01.
"I think our compete level was outsanding all weekend," said Fox. "It was probably the most complete two-game stretch we've played in a long time and tonight I felt we were outstanding for the full 60.
"And with us being down three or four guys right now, we're short-benched but I felt like we did all the little things right, make sure we were prepared and it was good to see us get those two points."
The previous evening, while soured by Dowd’s injury, saw the Steelers control the game once again, despite falling behind to a Nolan Laports goal at 2.55. Marc-Olivier Vallerand drew the hosts level within two minutes on the power play, before DeLuca put them ahead at 8.28.
Brendan Connolly made it 3-1 in the 19th minute with a short-handed strike and the Steelers put themselves 5-1 before the halfway mark through second period strikes from Davies and Jonathan Phillips.