Points best form of payback for Mudbugs at Lone Star

(Photo courtesy Shreveport Mudbugs)

By ROY LANG III, Journal Sports 

It doesn’t take much beyond the words “Mudbugs-Brahmas” to get the juices flowing.

The longtime rivals have battled for more than two decades, first as professional franchises and now at the junior level. The teams have combined to win three of the last five North American Hockey League championships. 

The next chapter in the rivalry is a two-game set in North Richland Hills, Texas, this weekend. The last meetings were very testy. You shouldn’t expect anything different at the NYTEX Sports Centre. While it won’t take much to get the blood boiling yet again, the priority remains accumulating points. 

Shreveport has done a fine job of that of late. The Mudbugs have five victories in six games and are fresh off a sweep of New Mexico to vault them into third place in the NAHL South. 

After a blazing start to the 2022-23 campaign, the Brahmas have struggled. Lone Star has lost seven of its past nine games and is just six points in front of Shreveport. 

The last time the teams met (Jan. 27-28), the Mudbugs exited George’s Pond at Hirsch Coliseum with a sweep. One member of the Brahmas told Shreveport: “Next time, we’ll be ready.” 

“There can definitely be carryover,” Mudbugs head coach Jason Campbell said. “It hasn’t been that long since we played them and we play them again next week. 

“Part of our game and part of their game is to be physical, but we have to be smart while doing it. There is a lot to play for. We still need to win hockey games, they need to win hockey games. It’s a tight race in the South Division. There is a lot of jockeying for position and sometimes that jockeying can put you out of the playoffs.” 

The Mudbugs have been led by, well, everyone of late. Shreveport has displayed impressive depth, especially up front, in the second half of the season. 

“It’s good to see everyone stepping up,” said forward Eric Vitale, who has 11 goals and 16 assists this season. “It’s all about opportunity. If you get it, you have to take advantage of it. Some guys don’t get as much ice as others, so when you step on it you have to give that 110 percent effort. To have that depth is good and it’s going to help us moving forward.” 

Nine Mudbugs have collected at least 20 points this season. Five players have at least 10 goals. 

Following the Friday and Saturday affairs, the teams will buckle up again in Shreveport next weekend. 

Contact Roy at roylangiii@yahoo.com