Mudbugs look to power-up hosting New Mexico

SAVOR THE SCENE: This weekend’s series will be the Shreveport Mudbugs’ final two games on home ice until December.  (Photo by CHRISTI LANG, Journal Sports)

By ROY LANG III, Journal Sports

The Shreveport Mudbugs needed a couple of victories last week in Amarillo. It certainly didn’t matter how, but what turned out to be the spark in Saturday’s game didn’t hurt. 

The Mudbugs needed the power-play unit to contribute. Not only has the scoring production been mediocre, it often seemed as if the team wasn’t the group with the man-advantage.

Shreveport has allowed a staggering four short-handed goals – the same number of power-play goals it’s tallied. Needless to say, that’s the worst ratio in the North American Hockey League. 

Saturday, less than one minute after Amarillo scored to take an early lead, the Mudbugs cashed in on a power play thanks to a blast from Logan Valkama.

“We made a few minor adjustments, but I feel like you could almost put anybody out there (on the power-play unit),” Mudbugs head coach Jason Campbell said.

The Mudbugs scored twice in the third period to complete a two-game sweep of the previously undefeated Amarillo Wranglers.

Tonight, Shreveport (5-5-2) returns to George’s Pond at Hirsch Coliseum to face South Division foe New Mexico (6-1-1). 

“They’re fast, their special teams are good, they are a good well-balanced hockey team with good coaching goaltending,” Campbell said. “It’s going to be physical. We have to be on our toes and not be distracted by the hoopla of playing at home.”

The Mudbugs will look to extend the momentum on special teams in the final homestand before December (the State Fair is about to invade town – and Hirsch Coliseum).

“When you’re on the power play, it’s not a time to take your foot off the gas pedal,” Campbell said. “It’s time to really go after (the opponent).

You’re up one man, so you have to outnumber them on every puck and win puck battles. You have to move the puck quickly and not hang onto it. If you hang onto it, they don’t have to do anything. You have to be efficient and put pucks on net.”

This is also “Stick it to Cancer” weekend at The George. For a small donation, the organization allowed fans to paint tributes that will be on the ice for both games.

This is a cause extremely close to Campbell’s heart.

“My grandma, my dad, my wife, my brother-in-law — all different types of cancer,” he said. “It touches so many people’s lives — negatively if they lose someone or positively if they beat it.

“I’ve watched them fight it – you just feel helpless sometimes. We have people in tears when they’re painting names on the ice and we see laughter. It’s a happy time and sad time mixed into a wild bowl of emotions.”

Mudbugs vs. New Mexico

Friday, Saturday (7:11 p.m.)

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