Mudbugs drop first two playoff games at Lone Star

RALLY TIME: The Shreveport Mudbugs dropped the first two games of their best-of-5 series against Lone Star. The series shifts to Shreveport on Friday.

By ROY LANG III, Journal Sports

NORTH RICHLAND HILLS, Texas – It was a theme in the regular season, and it’s been a problem in the postseason: Generating scoring opportunities against the Lone Star Brahmas is tough.

However, the Shreveport Mudbugs, down one game and one goal entering the third period of Game 2 against the top-seeded team in the North American Hockey League, registered just one shot in the final 20 minutes.

Shreveport played the rival Brahmas tough, but a pair of one-goal losses in the first two games of a best-of-5 opening-round playoff series leaves the Mudbugs with no room for error as series shifts to Shreveport.

“We just didn’t come out in the third period with the urgency we needed – the urgency we were playing in the first two periods,” Mudbugs head coach Jason Campbell told The Journal.

Lone Star topped the Mudbugs 1-0 in Game 1 on Friday at the NYTEX Sports Centre and escaped with a 3-2 victory on Saturday in Game 2.

Shreveport managed just 22 shots in the opener and 17 in Game 2. The Mudbugs were solid defensively, as they allowed Lone Star just 42 combined shots over the weekend – 15 on Saturday.

The struggle on offense isn’t new against the rival Brahmas. Although Shreveport won five of the eight meetings in the series, three of the victories came in a shootout and the Mudbugs failed to outshoot Lone Star in any of the eight regular-season meetings.

It took Shreveport more than 11 minutes to record its first shot on goal in the series Friday, but the Mudbugs found their stride in the second period and early in the third. They were repeatedly denied by Lone Star netminder Arthur Smith and failed to take advantage of 4 straight minutes of power-play time.

“We just couldn’t find the net Friday,” Campbell said. “That’s the difference right now – their consistency and the minor inconsistency we are showing.”

Saturday, Lone Star pounced early and led 3-1 after the first period.

A power-play goal from Tim Khokhlachev cut the deficit in half in the second period, but the Mudbugs barely fired a shot with a chance to tie.

“Instead of possessing pucks and looking for a solid play, we were just throwing pucks, helping them out of their own end for them,” Campbell said.

Game 3 is set for George’s Pond at Hirsch Coliseum on Friday (7:11 p.m.). Should the Mudbugs win, Game 4 will be at The George on Saturday.

“We have to fight for every inch,” Campbell said. “We have to make sure shots get through and that guys getting to the net for rebounds and screens.”