By ROY LANG III, Journal Sports
With 13 games remaining in the regular season, the Shreveport Mudbugs have finally climbed back into the playoff race in the North American Hockey League’s South Division.
The last six weeks will determine if the Mudbugs keep the momentum and have an opportunity to defend their 2021 Robertson Cup.
Mudbugs head coach Jason Campbell says it’s been “a battle” since his team was mired in last place two months into the 2021-22 season. On Saturday, Shreveport put the finishing touch on a convincing two-game sweep of Odessa on George’s Pond at Hirsch Coliseum and moved into a tie for the fourth and final playoff position in the division.
“Now it’s going to be a war,” Campbell told The Journal.
Although Shreveport’s five-game win streak ended in a 2-1 loss to New Mexico on Sunday afternoon, the weekend was a success. Prior to this weekend, the Mudbugs were winless in four games against Odessa, the team they are now tied with in the standings.
“I feel like we were possessing the puck a little better,” Campbell said regarding the turnaround against the Jackalopes. “Our forecheck was working pretty good and we were able to find the back of the net a little more consistently.”
Friday, after Shreveport (24-18-5) saw a 2-0 lead erased, it recovered to collect a 6-3 victory in front of a packed house – of people and canines. Saturday, the crowd was treated to a 4-1 triumph.
“The fans were beautiful,” said Campbell, whose team spent the prior three weeks on the road. “It was pretty awesome to be back home.”
Goaltender Devon Bobak grabbed both victories while Burke Simpson had a three-goal weekend. Timofei Khoklachev and Logan Furstenau scored two goals each.
Last week’s 3 Stars
1. Logan Furstenau, scored twice Friday, including massive tally with game tied at 2 in the second period that -helped the Mudbugs wrestle back momentum
2. Burke Simpson, three goals, including a short-handed marker late in the second period Friday.
3. Devon Bobak, 46 saves on 50 shots against and posted a 2-0 weekend.
NAHL South Division standings
New Mexico (34-13-3), 71 points
Lone Star (29-11-8), 66
Wichita Falls (24-15-8), 56
Shreveport (24-18-5), 53
Odessa (24-19-5), 53
Amarillo (23-22-3), 49
Corpus Christi (23-25-2), 48
El Paso (13-31-4), 30
*top four make the playoffs
Goals: Austin Brimmer, Connor Gatto, 13
Assists: Brimmer, 26
Points: Brimmer, 39
Penalty Minutes: Davis Goukler, 121
Game-winning goals: Gatto, 4
Goals-against average: Devon Bobak, 2.10
Save percentage: Bobak, .918
The Mudbugs stay at home for a two-game set against rival Lone Star. Puck drop for Friday and Saturday is set for 7:11 p.m.
Photo by CHRISTI LANG