The Steelers take a healthy four-goal lead into the second leg of the semi-final back at the FlyDSA Arena on January 29, but their joy was tempered by the injury suffered by 22-goal DeLuca.
The 24-year-old winger had to be helped off the ice in the first period after he went crashing into the boards behind the Clan goal. He never returned to the game and was later seen on crutches before the team headed home back to Sheffield.
Speaking afterwards, head coach Fox said it was too early to tell the extent of DeLuca’s injury, the latest in a long line of such setbacks to hit the Steelers this season.
“It’s too early to say what is wrong with him (DeLuca), that is the sour side of this right now - again we have potentially lost a pretty key player for us and it just kind of feels like that is the way the season has gone,” said Fox.
“Hopefully, it is not anything too serious but it doesn’t look great, but when you lose a guy like DeLuca that is going to hurt your team.”
One bonus for the Steelers, added Fox, was that defenceman James Bettauer - out since late November - is due to return to the line-up, possibly in time for this weekend's key league encounters against title rivals Cardiff Devils and Belfast Giants.
Fellow D-man Josef Hrabal - ruled out of last night's trip to Glasgow through injury - is also expected to be back in contention.