Bugs Beat: With playoff draw set, Shreveport will ‘cross-train’

By ROY LANG III, Journal Sports

The Shreveport Mudbugs still have two games left in the 2021-22 season, but it’s never too early to start thinking about the playoffs – especially when the future opponent is the Lone Star Brahmas.

The Mudbugs’ split this weekend against Corpus Christi locked them into the fourth position in the North American Hockey League’s South Division. Saturday, the Brahmas clinched the South title and set up a first-round matchup with Shreveport (Lone Star will host Games 1 and 2 of the best-of-5 series on April 22-23. Tickets are on sale through the Brahmas).

Friday, the Mudbugs scored two first-period goals and then held off a couple of rallies by the Rays to win 6-3 at The George. Saturday, Shreveport’s Austin Brimmer struck first, but Corpus Christi rattled off four straight goals to earn a split.

Shreveport coach Jason Campbell gave some starters a break against Corpus Christi and will continue to mix it up as the Mudbugs close the regular season with a pair of home games against El Paso.

“We’re going to try to find a real healthy mix of preparing for the playoff all while giving guys a night off if needed,” Campbell told The Journal. “Nobody is getting two games off or anything like that, because we need to prepare for some intense competition the following weekend.”

El Paso will enter The George with just one win in its previous 25 games.

“We have to be prepared,” Campbell said. “We’re not overlooking El Paso because if you don’t bring a competitive edge that’s when things can go bad – you can get hurt. (El Paso) will compete hard, so we have to do the same thing. At the same time, we can practice preparing for Lone Star. There will be a lot of cross-training.”

Bobak gets weekend off

One of the hottest goaltenders in the North American Hockey League, Devon Bobak, got some much-deserved rest against Corpus Christi. Simon Bucheler started both games between the pipes and earned the victory on Friday with a 26-save effort.

Game-winner watch

Timofei Khokhlachev has enjoyed a wonderful career with the Mudbugs. If not for being stuck in Russia during the COVID season (2020-21), he would likely have the record for most games played by an NAHL Mudbug. Nevertheless, “Koko” leads the franchise record for game-winning goals (nine). However, teammate Connor Gatto is on his heels with eight. Gatto is in a three-way tie for the team lead (four) this season.

Journal’s 3 Stars

1. Hayden Nichol, after 44 games without a goal this season, the Brentwood, Tennessee product scored twice in Friday’s victory. Nichol is the son of Scott Nichol, who played 662 games in the NHL

2. Austin Brimmer, collected three assists Friday and scored early in Saturday’s affair

3. Burke Simpson, three points (G, 2A) Friday

NAHL South Division standings

x-Lone Star (36-12-10), 82 points
*New Mexico (36-17-5), 77
*Wichita Falls (34-16-8), 76
*Shreveport (33-20-5), 71
Odessa (29-24-5), 63
Amarillo (26-28-4), 56
Corpus Christi (25-30-3), 53
El Paso (14-40-4), 32

x-clinched division

*clinched playoff spot

Team leaders

Goals: Austin Brimmer, 19
Assists: Brimmer, 33
Points: Brimmer, 52
Penalty Minutes: Davis Goukler, 131
Game-winning goals: Connor Gatto, Lucas Sedlacek, Gunner Moore, 4
Goals-against average: Devon Bobak, 2.02
Save percentage: Bobak, .924

Up next

Shreveport closes out the regular season with two games (Friday, Saturday, 7:11 p.m.) against the El Paso Rhinos on George’s Pond at Hirsch Coliseum.

Courtesy of Shreveport Mudbugs