By ROY LANG III, Journal Sports
Following Saturday’s game at Lone Star, most of the Shreveport Mudbugs scurried home to take advantage of a rare pre-holiday break in their North American Hockey League schedule.
Mudbugs head coach Jason Campbell believes the break has come at a “good” time.
Shreveport is exactly one-third of its way through the regular season. The Mudbugs have won just seven of their 20 games and currently reside in fifth place in the South Division. However, that is a bit misleading as they have played at least four more games than each of the teams closest in the South Division.
“They’ve been going hard since August,” Campbell said of his team. “The challenge is for them to stay on top of their conditioning and come back refreshed and healthy and ready to go. We have to find a way, and it’s going to start in practice, to be able to compete like we did Friday (3-2 victory against the Brahmas) for 120-plus minutes every weekend.”
Last Friday night’s overtime win at Lone Star is Shreveport’s only victory in the first six games of the eight-game road trip. The extended time away from George’s Pond at Hirsch Coliseum ends with a post-turkey doubleheader at El Paso on Nov. 25-26.
The Mudbugs return to the George to face New Mexico on Dec. 2-3.
Shreveport must find a way to score goals. The Mudbugs (1.95) are one of just two teams in the 29-team league to post fewer than two goals per game.
One of the reasons for the punchless offense is a power play that’s been more of a burden than a force. Shreveport ranks 28th in the NAHL on the power play (11.8 percent). The Mudbugs have scored nine power-play goals in 76 attempts, but have also allowed six short-handed goals (worst in the league).
“You have to outwork your opponent and we haven’t done that all the time,” Campbell said. “We’ve done that sometimes. Maybe there is a mental block there on the power play, ‘Hey, we’re up a man, let’s take our time and maybe we don’t have to outwork our opponent.’”
A stellar penalty-kill unit has helped mask the offensive woes. Shreveport kills penalties at an 87 percent clip – second best in the league.
“All you can do is keep working through it,” Campbell said. “Our guys are going to work, us coaches are going to work to get our power play better. We have to because it’s going to be huge over the next 40 games.”
Contact Roy at firstname.lastname@example.org