Sheffield Steelers go into the first of their final five league games of the season with the frustration of losing a third forward - this time to suspension.
The defending champions are already without injured Rob Dowd and Colton Fretter. Now Guillaume Desbiens - who yesterday signed a new contract for next season at the club - has been banned from Saturday’s game with Fife Flyers after an incident following Sunday’s Coventry Blaze defeat.
It appeared that Mike Quesnele stamped on the winger’s stick at the hand-shake line up and the Steeler reacted, receiving a match penalty.
Coach Paul Thompson said: “You can’t get frustrated at the end of games. The pressure is high right now amongst everybody but you have got to be disciplined and focused because it hurts you for the next game.”
While Steelers scored seven against Dundee Stars on Saturday, they beat Blaze’s Brian Stewart just twice from 46 shots, so they can ill afford to lose a player who has scored four points in two games.
However, Steelers coach Paul Thompson is pleased to have the player on board for next season.
“We spoke about him becoming a long term addition when he joined us and we can confirm now that he will be with us again next season” he said.
“I think in many ways his signing helped turn our season around. He is a man and plays like one. Nothing half measured about him. Take a look at where he has played, his desire took him all the way to the NHL and a long career in the American league
“We are building a core group and he is right in the heart of it. Fitzgerald, Mosienko, Roy, O’Connor and now Desbiens. These are guys you want in the trenches with you.”
Sheffield still have a decent chance of retaining the title - as their competitors have been losing too.
Cardiff have lost three on the bounce, Nottingham have dropped their last two league games.
The only hot form team in regular competition is Belfast, with five straight wins, they have two games in hand over Steelers (tonight they host Fife) but are five points behind.
Sheffield failed to bury a couple of five-on-three power plays at Blaze and their PP will be critical in the home straight against Fife, and Nottingham (twice each) and Coventry.