Mudbugs ride four-game win streak into Amarillo

WRANGLIN’ A PLAYOFF SPOT: Shreveport defenseman Logan Heroux and his Mudbugs teammates enter this weekend’s road series at Amarillo on a four-game win streak. (Photo courtesy of SHREVEPORT MUDBUGS)

By ROY LANG III, Journal Sports

Perhaps it was a look at the standings during a recent respite in the schedule that sparked a surge by the Shreveport Mudbugs. It wasn’t so much the position in the standings, but how they reflected on the fact that a third of the season had already passed.

“They may have said, ‘Holy crap, we only have 40 more (games) to go — the season is going by so fast and we’re out of a playoff spot,”’ Mudbugs head coach Jason Campbell said. “A little bit of reality set in. You can run out of time pretty quickly if you don’t start winning hockey games and get it figured out.”

Since their weekend off, the Mudbugs (11-9-4) have won four straight games and slipped into the final playoff position in the North American Hockey League’s South Division.

“We’re trying to catch New Mexico and a couple of other teams ahead of us and trying to pull away from some teams that are below us,” Campbell said.

That’s why this weekend presents another terrific opportunity for Shreveport. The Mudbugs travel to Amarillo to face the Wranglers (11-9-2), the team just two points in the rear in the South.

“It started with our practice habits,” Shreveport forward Hayden Nichol said of the team’s turnaround. “Our leadership group did a good job of taking the reins. If you practice with energy you’re going to play with energy.”

Nichol scored the game-winning goal in both games last weekend, including the overtime dagger to complete a sweep of New Mexico on George’s Pond at Hirsch Coliseum on Saturday.

Amarillo and Shreveport have traded road sweeps in a pair of weekend series so far this season. 

Campbell understands there is “a lot of hockey to be played,” and Shreveport still has plenty of work to do, but his first-year defenseman, Liam Fleet, believes he already understands what it takes to continue the tradition of a franchise that’s made the playoffs in all but one season since 1997.

“It takes everything,” Fleet said. “All your will power, all your hard work, on and off the ice.” 

Mudbugs at Amarillo

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

Contact Roy at roylangiii@yahoo.com