Sheffield Steelers’ win at Guildford Flames overshadowed by Anthony DeLuca’s failed drug test

SADLY for Sheffield Steelers, regardless of how good their performances were across the weekend, it was always going to be overshadowed by events off the ice.

Sheffield Steelers' Justin Hodgman, left, battles for the puck during the 3-1 Elite League win at Guildford Flames Picture: John Uwins/EIHL

The club were rocked on Friday evening when they were told by forward Anthony DeLuca that he had failed an anti-doping test.

It resulted in the 26-year-old being suspended immediately, with further news expected this week after DeLuca has consulted with UK Anti-Doping Agency officials.

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Steelers’ head coach Aaron Fox couldn’t add any more to the situation when quizzed after Saturday night’s 5-4 Challenge Cup loss to Nottingham Panthers, but it will be the last thing he needs given he has only just placed two more of his forwards – Brendan Connolly and Marc-Olivier Vallerand – on injured reserve.

Anthony DeLuca - suspended immediately by Sheffield Steelers. Picture: Dean Woolley.

Connolly is likely out for the season with a knee injury but, if DeLuca ends up departing the Steelers, he will have to source two new import forwards as quickly as possible.

On the ice, injury-hit Steelers produced two admirable performances, bouncing back from their disappointment at home in their final group match in the Cup, by returning from their trip to Guildford Flames in the league with a 3-1 victory and moving back to the top of the regular season standings.

The Steelers came out in positive mood, Robert Dowd getting them on the board first with just 2.48 on the click before helping set up Martin Latal to make it 2-0 just under four minutes later.

That was how it stayed until the 49th minute when John Armstrong strengthened the visitors’ grip on the game with a power play strike and, although the Flames hit back within seconds through Jordan Cownie, the Steelers remained resolute to pick up a vital two league points.

On Saturday, goals in the 58th minute from Latal and Matias Sointu saw the Steelers come from behind to take their clash with Nottingham into overtime – Alex Graham having earlier struck twice. But they were ultimately denied when Christophe Boivin struck just over two minutes into the extra session.

In the NIHL National, Sheffield Steeldogs saw their lead at the top of the standings overhauled when they slipped to a 3-0 defeat at home to Swindon Wildcats, the team to replace them as leaders.

Emil Svec, Balint Pakozdi and Tomasz Malasinski were on target for the visitors.

Leeds Knights lost out 3-2 in overtime to Raiders on Saturday.