By ROY LANG III, Journal Sports
Things weren’t exactly smooth – on or off the ice — for the Shreveport Mudbugs, but a tumultuous weekend produced exactly what was needed — a sweep of rival Lone Star, the second-place team in the North American Hockey League’s South Division.
“We did what we had to do this weekend,” Mudbugs head coach Jason Campbell said.
“That’s the main thing. We’re in a better spot now than we were two weeks ago.”
Lone Star outshot Shreveport in both games, totaling a 53-24 advantage. However, the Mudbugs escaped 3-2 in overtime on Friday and rode goaltender Devon Bobak to a 2-0 victory on Saturday.
“They aren’t perfect, but they don’t stop,” Campbell said of his squad. “Whether they get scored on or make a mistake, they just keep pushing and pushing and pushing. They don’t quit. That gives them an opportunity to win no matter how they play, no matter how much we possess the puck, no matter how many shots we get or how many shots we give up.”
Bobak’s 26-save performance on Saturday marked his NAHL-leading fifth shutout of the season.
The weekend began with a trade that shocked many. With just a couple of months left in the season, Shreveport sent forward Billy Feczko, who has played the second-most games for the Mudbugs during their NAHL tenure, to New Jersey.
“I hope it works out for both parties; I want Billy to do well,” Campbell said. “He’s done some big-time things for us on the ice and we’ve had some really great conversations and bonding off the ice.”
Since 2018, Feczko tallied 29 goals and 66 points in 148 career games in teal and purple (only Gueorgui Feduolov has played more; 159 from 2016-2019).
“This is a situation where we think this can help him personally,” Campbell said. “But we wouldn’t make the trade if we didn’t think it could help us. There is no bad blood. We weren’t upset with Billy and, to my knowledge, Billy wasn’t upset with us.”
Although the Mudbugs have collected seven of a possible eight points in their past four games, they still reside in seventh place in the South. That doesn’t tell the whole story. Shreveport, trailing the fourth and final playoff position by eight points two weeks ago, is now just two points out of the postseason.
The South’s fourth- through seventh-place teams (Wichita Falls, Amarillo, Corpus Christi and Shreveport) are separated by just two points.
Last week’s 3 Stars
1. Devon Bobak, stopped 51 of 53 shots over the weekend
2. Connor Gatto, tallied in both games, including the overtime game-winner Friday
3. John Hallard, his assist Saturday was just the beginning. Extremely solid in Saturday’s victory
NAHL South Division standings
New Mexico (25-10-3), 53 points
Lone Star (20-10-7), 47
Odessa (21-14-3), 45
Wichita Falls (17-14-7), 41
Amarillo (19-16-2), 40
Corpus Christi (19-18-2), 40
Shreveport (17-14-5), 39
El Paso (13-21-3), 29
*top four make the playoffs
Goals: Austin Brimmer, 10
Assists: Connor Gatto, 18
Points: Austin Brimmer, 27
Penalty Minutes: Davis Goukler, 99
Game-winning goals: Gatto, 4
Goals-against average: Devon Bobak, 1.98
Save percentage: Bobak, .922
Another week, another matchup against the top team in the South. This time, the Mudbugs will host New Mexico on George’s Pond at Hirsch Coliseum (Friday and Saturday at 7:11 p.m.).
Photo by CHRISTI LANG