By ROY LANG III, Journal Sports
The past couple of weekends haven’t been kind to the Shreveport Mudbugs. Consequently, the work from a 14-wins-in-18-games stretch has nearly been nullified. The Mudbugs, eight points off the final playoff spot in the North American Hockey League’s South Division, aren’t quite to must-win mode with 18 games remaining in the regular season, but there is no denying desperation is the name of the game until the finish in early April.
“The numbers don’t lie,” Mudbugs head coach Jason Campbell told The Journal.
As Shreveport kicks off a two-game series at scenic Corpus Christi on Friday, don’t expect the Mudbugs to act much differently.
“We’ve been (in desperation mode) for a while now,” Campbell said. “We should probably just call it playoff hockey. Hopefully we can learn how to win some hockey games.”
Wins are much needed. Shreveport (20-17-5) rests in sixth place in the South. They trail Wichita Falls and Odessa, the teams tied for third and fourth (the final qualifying position) place, by eight points.
Corpus Christi (22-22-2) is in a similar position. Although the Rays are one point ahead of the Mudbugs, they are more desperate for points as they have just 14 games remaining in their regular season.
Make no mistake, Shreveport’s position in the South is perilous. However, the franchise that hasn’t missed a postseason since entering the NAHL in 2016 has something on its side.
Games in hand.
Shreveport has four more games to play than Odessa and the Rays, and three more than Wichita Falls. Wins equal two points, so it doesn’t take a mathematician to unlock the formula for success.
“We have to win all those four games in hand and maybe get some help from the rest of the league,” Campbell said.
Shreveport has enjoyed success against Corpus Christi this season. After the Rays took the initial meeting, the Mudbugs have rattled off three straight wins in the series while outscoring Corpus Christi 13-2 in those contests.
This weekend ends Shreveport’s three-week, seven-game road trip. The Mudbugs will be at home next weekend to face Odessa.
Former Mudbug celebrates 1,000th game
The first stop for Derek Nesbitt following his college hockey career at Ferris State was Shreveport-Bossier City, where he was reunited with then-Mudbugs head coach Scott Muscutt, an instructor at a hockey school organized by Nesbitt’s father and former NHLer, Dave McIlwain.
Nesbitt played seven games for the Mudbugs as an “amateur signee.”
Those playoffs capped the 2004-05 season.
Nesbitt, 39, is still playing.
Friday, the Atlanta Gladiators of the ECHL will honor Nesbitt, who recently broke the 1,000-game plateau.
Seventeen years ago, Nesbitt racked up five assists (he was the team’s fourth-highest point total) during a seven-game series against the Wichita Thunder (Bossier-Shreveport lost 4-3).
“If you could model yourself after anyone outside of your own family (Muscutt) is a guy, one of the best human beings I’ve ever met,” Nesbitt told Scott Burnside of Daily Faceoff.
Mudbugs at Corpus Christi
Friday, Saturday, (7:05 p.m.)
American Bank Center
Photo courtesy Shreveport Mudbugs