By ROY LANG III, Journal Sports
The Shreveport Mudbugs just won’t go away.
Mother Nature’s disruption of the South last week produced a rare one-game weekend. That one game was significant for the Mudbugs, who need every point possible in their chase for North American Hockey League playoff spot.
The first-place New Mexico Ice Wolves finally made it to town for a Saturday night affair, and may be happy only two points were on the line.
Red-hot Shreveport found itself down a goal late in the first period, but used a tally by Burke Simpson with just 14 seconds left to light a fuse.
Niklas Miller capitalized on the momentum and scored twice in 51 seconds early in the second period and the Mudbugs held on for a 3-2 victory at a raucous George’s Pond at Hirsch Coliseum.
Shreveport climbed one spot in the standings to sixth place, but fell further behind the final playoff position, hindered by Friday’s cancellation.
The Mudbugs are 7-0-1 in their past eight games and haven’t lost in regulation since Jan. 8 (2-0 to Wichita).
Saturday’s packed house of 3,072 helped the Mudbugs move into first place in the league’s attendance race with an average of 2,147 fans per game.
Another week, another trade for Shreveport, as it dealt defensemen Tyler Behl and Colin Doherty to Kenai River for 6-foot-2, 185-pound defenseman Carter Green.
Green had four goals and eight assists in 41 games for Kenai River.
Last week’s 3 Stars
1. Niklas Miller, two goals early in the second period Saturday proved to be the difference
2. Devon Bobak, stopped all but two shots to emerge victorious in the battle of two of the NAHL’s best goaltenders
3. Burke Simpson, much-needed goal late in the first period Saturday was the spark the Bugs needed
NAHL South Division standings
New Mexico (25-11-3), 53 points
Lone Star (23-10-7), 53
Odessa (22-15-4), 48
Wichita Falls (19-14-7), 45
Corpus Christi (20-19-2), 42
Shreveport (18-14-5), 41
Amarillo (19-18-2), 40
El Paso (13-23-3), 29
*top four make the playoffs
Goals: Austin Brimmer, 10
Assists: Connor Gatto, Brimmer, 18
Points: Austin Brimmer, 28
Penalty Minutes: Davis Goukler, 99
Game-winning goals: Gatto, 4
Goals-against average: Devon Bobak, 1.98
Save percentage: Bobak, .922
Shreveport hits the road to play Lone Star (now tied with New Mexico for first place) in North Richland Hills, Texas, on Friday and Saturday (7:30 p.m.). This marks the third time in four weekends the Mudbugs will face a first-place team.
Photo by CHRISTI LANG