By ROY LANG III, Journal Sports
In a battle between teams desperate to climb into the playoff hunt, the Shreveport Mudbugs took it to the Corpus Christi Rays on George’s Pond at Hirsch Coliseum this weekend.
The Mudbugs posted a 5-1 victory Friday and used Devon Bobak’s North American Hockey League-best fourth shutout of the season to claim a 4-0 win on Saturday.
The sweep helps the defending Robertson Cup champions pull even with the Rays for sixth place in the South Division. Shreveport is within eight points of the final playoff spot (the top four in every division qualify for the postseason).
Saturday marked the Mudbugs’ ninth victory in their 12 games since a road trip that spanned a month and a half. After Shreveport’s Oct. 16 game at The George, its next home game took place Dec. 3.
The extended road trip was disastrous. The Mudbugs won just one of the 10 games and lost the last eight on the journey. They returned home in last place with quite a hole to climb.
“This team could have quit on that road trip — 40 days on the road, and with how we were playing,” head coach Jason Campbell told the Journal. “It wasn’t in them and it’s not in us to quit. The way we responded is refreshing.”
Bobak has keyed the Mudbugs’ turnaround.
“I felt like we weren’t playing great hockey (early in the season), but I felt like we weren’t getting that big save either,” Campbell said. “After we got back from the road trip (goaltenders coach) Rich (Parent) was working with the goalies and (Devon) has won us some hockey games.”
Bobak recorded shutouts in the first two games following the road trip and continued his hot play this weekend.
Last week’s 3 Stars
1. Devon Bobak, in net for both wins — 19 saves to record league-leading fourth shutout of the season Saturday; allowed one goal on 18 shots Friday
2. Austin Brimmer, 4 assists Saturday, goal on Friday and a professional pest every night
3. Jonah Copre, returned from a two-month absence Friday and immediately recorded the first goal of his NAHL career
NAHL South Division standings
New Mexico (22-10-2), 46 points
Lone Star (18-9-6), 42
Odessa (19-12-3), 41
Amarillo (19-12-2), 40
Wichita Falls (15-13-6), 36
Shreveport (14-14-4), 32
Corpus Christi (15-18-2), 32
El Paso (13-17-3), 29
*top four make the playoffs
Goals: Austin Brimmer, Garrett Steele, 9
Assists: Connor Gatto, 17
Points: Austin Brimmer, 24
Penalty Minutes: Davis Goukler, 99
Game-winning goals: Gunner Moore, Steele, Gatto, 3
Goals-against average: Devon Bobak, 2.10
Save percentage: Bobak, .918
Shreveport faces a brief, but important two-game road trip. The Mudbugs travel to division leader New Mexico on Friday and Saturday. The Mudbugs split a home series – the only two meetings between the clubs thus far – on Dec. 31-Jan. 1.
“The Mudbugs are coming,” forward Billy Feczko. “A lot of it has to do with confidence … we’ve had just a different confidence to us lately and I think that’s something that brings out a different side of our game.”
Photo: by TERI JOHNSON