By ROY LANG III, Journal Sports
The competition between the Shreveport Mudbugs and Lone Star Brahmas is best described in that one word. The hockey adversaries are poster boys for the definition.
Mudbugs head coach Jason Campbell often uses another descriptor.
The competition is even, the titles are plentiful.
It’s a good bet the road to the Robertson Cup travels through Shreveport and/or North Richland Hills, Texas. The cities were the home to three of the past four Robertson Cups in the North American Hockey League (Shreveport, 2018 and 2021; Lone Star, 2017). The teams have led the South Division in four of the past five seasons (Shreveport, 2017-18 and 2020-21; Lone Star 2016-17 and 2019-20).
The head coaches were teammates during Shreveport’s days of professional hockey and Dan Wildfong, the Brahmas’ leader, is arguably the greatest Mudbugs player of all time. However, he left in his prime to coach the Brahmas (2007). Ever since, the Mudbugs and their fans often wonder if they see a mirror image of their team.
Friday and Saturday, the Brahmas (20-9-6) visit George’s Pond at Hirsch Coliseum. Lone Star is in a familiar position, three points from the top of the South. There’s one twist at this point in the 2021-22 season. The Mudbugs (15-14-5), who have never missed the playoffs as a member of the NAHL, are five points behind the final postseason position and are desperate for wins.
“These are the games coaches are talking about in practice when we say ‘Stay engaged and challenge each other. You have to compete against each other, get the best out of each other,’” Campbell said. “Teams like Lone Star are relentless, coming after you in all areas of the rink. If you don’t match that it could be a rude awakening come Friday and Saturday.”
The Brahmas swept the only series played between the two – 3-2 and 9-2 on Nov. 12-13 in Texas.
The conflict extends off the ice, too. Even the recruiting battles are intense for two desirable destinations.
“(Fighting for recruits) happens knowingly (between the teams),” Campbell said. “I’m sure there is a lot more I don’t know, that (Wildfong) doesn’t know. It is ongoing.”
Campbell is already thrilled about one aspect to this weekend at The George.
“We should have everyone available to us,” he said.
This deep into a hockey season, health is an anomaly.
“It’s great news,” Campbell said.
Mudbugs vs. Lone Star
Friday, Saturday, 7:11 p.m.
George’s Pond at Hirsch Coliseum
Photo: Christi Lang