By ROY LANG III, Journal Sports
The Shreveport Mudbugs will complete the 2021-22 regular season this weekend on George’s Pond at Hirsch Coliseum. For once, positioning will not be a factor. The top four seeds in the North American Hockey League’s South Division – and the first-round playoff matchups – are set.
The standings – especially recent play – would make this weekend’s result seem pretty obvious. The Mudbugs are on a crazy run in the second half, rallying from last place to fourth place in the North American Hockey League’s South Division. On the flipside, El Paso will enter The George with just one win in its previous 25 games.
Make no mistake: There is plenty to play for.
Although El Paso (14-40-4) has won just 14 games this season, two of those victories have come against the Mudbugs. The Rhinos have only beat one other team – Odessa, three times – more than Shreveport.
If the Mudbugs (33-20-5) want to enter the postseason – a best-of-five battle with rival Lone Star — on the right foot, the process begins tonight against El Paso.
“These games are going to get us ready for playoffs,” Shreveport defenseman Niklas Miller said. “If we lose these two games, it’s not good. We need to go into the playoffs with some confidence.”
Brimmer eyes Triple Crown
Shreveport forward Austin Brimmer has a great opportunity to make a little franchise history this weekend. The Markham, Ontario, native leads the Mudbugs in goals (19), assists (33) and therefore points (52) with two games remaining.
If Brimmer retains the outright lead in those categories, he would become the first Mudbug in the NAHL era to end the season with sole possession of the lead of those categories. Last year, Braiden Dorfman led the team in assists (38), points (59) and was tied for the lead in goals (21) with Joe Mack.
Brimmer is eight assists clear of Connor Gatto, but has just a three-goal advantage on Gatto. Timofei Khokhlachev is four goals behind Brimmer entering the final weekend.
During Shreveport’s professional era, only three players scored the team Triple Crown — Toby Burkitt (30 goals, 50 assists, 1999-2000), Dan Wildfong (32G, 37A, 2004-05) and Joe Blaznek (24G, 39A, 2008-09).
Bugs vs. El Paso
Friday, Saturday (7:11 p.m.)
George’s Pond at Hirsch Coliseum
Mudbugs lead season series, 4-2
Photo by CHRISTI LANG
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