Bugs Beat: Shreveport tops in NAHL attendance

By ROY LANG III, Journal Sports

Shreveport, even from within, has taken its fair share of criticism about its ability to be a “sports town.” The area has seen multiple levels of professional baseball and football franchises either fold or leave town and soccer has failed. Pro hoops was run out of town — and since returned — despite winning championships, and the cost of professional hockey caused that sport to go dark for a few years.

Fan support hasn’t been an issue for the Shreveport Mudbugs, even in the days before their break following a 2011 Central Hockey League Presidents Cup championship.

The franchise – and its rabid fans – picked up where it left off after joining the North American Hockey League in 2016.

Saturday, 3,189 fans watched the Mudbugs cap the 2021-22 regular season on George’s Pond at Hirsch Coliseum with a 5-0 victory. Shreveport finished the season with an average attendance of 2,275 and led the NAHL for the fourth-straight season.

Pack the Pond

Season, average attendance (NAHL rank)

2021-22, 2,275 (Leader)

2020-21, 1,580 (Leader)

2019-20, 2,575 (Leader)

2018-19, 2,830 (Leader)

2017-18, 2,925 (2nd)

2016-17, 2,850 (2nd)

Shreveport kept its perfect NAHL postseason participation alive. For the fifth time (the 2020 playoffs were cancelled due to COVID), the Mudbugs are an NAHL playoff team. The team will travel to Texas to face rival Lone Star on Friday to begin a best-of-5 first-round series.

But first, we will highlight a wild 2021-22 campaign with some notable statistics.

Brimmer hits trifecta

Austin Brimmer became the only Mudbug to reach the 20-goal plateau this season with a remarkable tally in the first period in Saturday’s regular-season finale. Brimmer is the first NAHL Mudbug to lead his team outright in goals, assists (34) and points (54).

“It means the world because Shreveport is such a historic organization,” Brimmer told The Journal. “There are guys who played and are still involved, like (head coach Jason Campbell) Soupy and (general manager Scott Muscutt) Musky — it’s truly a pleasure to have that record. This organization has been so good to me. I’m so thankful for the opportunity.”

During Shreveport’s professional era, only three players cashed an identical trifecta — Toby Burkitt (30 goals, 50 assists, 1999-2000), Dan Wildfong (32G, 37A, 2004-05) and Joe Blaznek (24G, 39A, 2008-09).

Bobak bullies way to wins record

Shreveport netminder Devon Bobak shattered the NAHL franchise record for victories in a season between the pipes. Bobak’s 27 wins easily beat the prior mark set by Cole Hudson (20, 2020-21). Bobak also entered a three-way tie for the most shutouts in a single season.

Bobak, Maiszon Balboa (2019-20) and James Durham (2017-18) all earned five shutouts in their respective campaigns.

“Koko” proves he’s a (game-) winner

Shreveport forward Timofei Khokhlachev finished his regular-season Mudbugs career with an NAHL-franchise best nine game-winning goals. The Russian missed last season (he was stuck in his homeland) but still tops the list. He’s one ahead of current teammate Connor Gatto and former teammate Gueorgui Feduolov.

Journal’s 3 Stars

  1. Simon Bucheler, made 26 saves to collect his second shutout of the season Saturday
  2. Austin Brimmer, reached 20-goal mark on the season Saturday
  3. Connor Gatto, goal and an assist in Saturday’s victory 

NAHL South Division, final standings

xy-Lone Star (38-12-10), 86 points

*New Mexico (38-17-5), 81

*Wichita Falls (35-17-8), 78

*Shreveport (34-21-5), 73

Odessa (29-26-5), 63

Amarillo (27-29-4), 58

Corpus Christi (25-32-3), 53

El Paso (15-41-4), 34

x-clinched division

y-clinched overall NAHL regular-season title

*in playoffs

Final 2021-22 Mudbugs leaders

Goals: Austin Brimmer, 20

Assists: Brimmer, 34

Points: Brimmer, 54

Penalty Minutes: Davis Goukler, 133

Plus-minus: Lukas Sedlacek, plus-20 

Game-winning goals: Connor Gatto, Sedlacek, Gunner Moore, 4

Goals-against average: Devon Bobak, 2.09

Save percentage: Bobak, .921

Up next

Shreveport begins a best-of-5 first-round playoff series with Lone Star in North Richland Hills, Texas on Friday and Saturday.

Photo courtesy Shreveport Mudbugs

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