By ROY LANG III, Journal Sports
The magic continued for one evening in North Richland Hills, Texas, but the Shreveport Mudbugs were dealt a bit of reality 24 hours later.
The Mudbugs executed a thrilling third-period rally on Friday and escaped the NYTEX Sports Centre with a 3-2 victory in a shootout over rival Lone Star to briefly move up a spot in the North American Hockey League standings.
The Brahmas continued to pepper Mudbugs netminder Devon Bobak with pucks on Saturday. This time, it led to a victory. Lone Star raced out to a four-goal lead and defeated Shreveport, 5-2, in a testy affair in the Metroplex.
The loss pushed the Mudbugs back to sixth place in the South. Shreveport now finds itself six points out of the final playoff position in the division.
For the first time this season, the Mudbugs won after trailing entering the third period. Shreveport was 0-9-2 in its first 11 attempts, but Austin Brimmer’s goal early in Friday’s final period cut Lone Star’s lead in half (2-1). Burke Simpson tied the game with 5:26 remaining in regulation. The game went to a shootout and the first two Mudbugs scored, but Bobak stopped both Lone Star attempts.
The Brahmas were 15-1-4 when leading after three periods before Friday.
Saturday, it was all Lone Star from the opening faceoff. For the sixth time in six meetings this season, the Brahmas outshot the Mudbugs. The 34-13 margin increased the season advantage against Shreveport to a staggering 168-96. The Mudbugs have won three of the six games, but were in a 4-0 hole after 40 minutes of action Saturday.
The teams combined for 98 penalty minutes and a pair of fights in Saturday’s third period.
Shreveport and Lone Star have just two matchups remaining in the regular season, set for Mar. 11-12 on George’s Pond at Hirsch Coliseum.
Shreveport scored on one of its 10 power plays this weekend and ranks No. 28 of the league’s 29 teams with the man-advantage. The Mudbugs have capitalized on 19 of 150 attempts this season (12.7 percent). Shreveport ranks No. 4 on the penalty kill (20 goals in 137 opportunities, 85.4 percent).
The game that was postponed Feb. 4 against New Mexico will be played Sunday, March 6 at 4 p.m. on George’s Pond at Hirsch Coliseum.
Last week’s 3 Stars
1. Connor Gatto, tone-setting tally in Friday’s shootout win, added two goals Saturday
2. Austin Brimmer, sparked Friday’s rally with team-leading 11th goal early in the third
3. Devon Bobak, recovered from two Brahmas goals early Friday and collected the W
NAHL South Division standings
New Mexico (27-11-3), 57 points
Lone Star (24-10-8), 56
Odessa (24-16-4), 52
Wichita Falls (21-14-7), 49
Corpus Christi (21-21-2), 44
Shreveport (19-15-5), 43
Amarillo (19-19-3), 41
El Paso (13-25-3), 29
*top four make the playoffs
Goals: Austin Brimmer, 11
Assists: Brimmer, 21
Points: Austin Brimmer, 32
Penalty Minutes: Niklas Miller, 106
Game-winning goals: Connor Gatto, 4
Goals-against average: Devon Bobak, 2.08
Save percentage: Bobak, .918
Shreveport’s road trip continues with a trifecta of crucial games against Wichita Falls on Feb. 18-20.
Photo courtesy of Shreveport Mudbugs