Mudbugs to attack lengthy roadie like a shiver of sharks

(Photo provided by SHREVEPORT MUDBUGS)

By ROY LANG III, Journal Sports

The start of the Louisiana State Fair means one thing for the Shreveport Mudbugs – get the heck out of Dodge.

It’s a tradition dating back to the early days of the first version of the Mudbugs – an organization in the Western Professional Hockey League/Central Hockey League. Twenty-five years later, hockey takes an extended hiatus as the George’s Pond ice melts inside Hirsch Coliseum to be replaced with rodeo dirt and cornhole boards.

During most of the seasons the Mudbugs have played on this side of the Red River, the fall road trip hasn’t been too bad. As a member of the North American Hockey League, Shreveport had a losing record in just one of the first five State Fair trips – a 2-4-2 mark during a 34-day roadie in 2018.

Things weren’t pretty last year, as the then-defending North American Hockey League champions experienced a tailspin that threatened the franchise’s long postseason streak.

Shreveport lost nine of 10 games during the six-week break and fell to last place in the NAHL’s South Division. Thankfully, a second-half surge sent the Mudbugs to the playoffs, but did the energy spent digging out of the hole have an effect in the postseason?

It’s that time again.

“We don’t want to put ourselves in that situation again,” Mudbugs head coach Jason Campbell said. “We have to start something that’s really good – get some wins. It’s going to be a battle.”

This year’s journey away from The George will not be as lengthy. The Mudbugs’ game in Oklahoma City tonight begins an eight-game, five-week road trip. However, there is a weekend off in the mix that will allow the players to go home for a few days.

“Every experience as a coach and a player is an experience you need to be mindful of,” Campbell said. “The good thing (last season) is the guys’ mindset stayed true. We were still confident in what we could accomplish and that we were a better team than we had shown.”

Tonight’s game will be the home opener for the Warriors (7-2). The Mudbugs and Oklahoma are tied for fourth place in the South and split a series at The George on Sept. 24-25.

The Mudbugs’ best State Fair trip came in 2020, when they posted a 6-1-1 mark over 35 days.

 “We have to play on the road anyway,” Campbell said, “so let’s tackle it like a swarm of sharks and get after it — take bites as we go along this whole road trip.”  

To be Fair …

Shreveport has generally been successful during the lengthy road trips caused by the presence of the Louisiana State Fair in the fall.

2016: 34 days, 4-4

2017: 34 days, 3-1-2

2018: 34 days, 2-4-2

2019: 40 days, 4-3

2020: 35 days, 6-1-1

2021: 48 days, 1-7-2  

Mudbugs at Oklahoma

Tonight, Saturday (7:15 p.m.)

Blazers Ice Centre, Oklahoma City, Okla.

Contact Roy at roylangiii@yahoo.com