Sheffield Steelers will be a team running dangerously near empty this coming weekend.
The side was without centreman Yared Hagos and Andreas Valdix for the 2-2 tie in Edinburgh Capitals on Wednesday and, after a 500-mile round trip, arrived home in South Yorkshire on in the early hours of Thursday.
The pair are major doubts for the second leg on Saturday at iceSheffield. After that cup second leg, the team faces the 400-mile round trip to League leading Cardiff Devils - a 6pm game Steelers need to win to claw back two of the seven points currently separating the pair.
The twin burden of injuries and fatigue will be a huge obstacle.
Meanwhile, Sheffield are enraged that Belfast Giants forward David Rutherford received only a two-game ban for inflicting the head injury to Hagos. Coach Paul Thompson posted on social media: “The ‘Department of Player Safety’ did not protect a player and future players today..” The club feels a ban of five or six games would have been more appropriate.
DOPS said it had: “considered a number of points in its decision making 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...Rutherford was given an additional game for a total of two match ban.”
Rutherford was himself stretchered off after being decked by Guillaume Desbiens.
He hurt his neck in the fall and said it was “the scariest moment of my career.”