By ROY LANG III, Journal Sports
As if there wasn’t enough motivation over the final 10 games for the Shreveport Mudbugs, the possibility to spend an extra night or two on George’s Pond at Hirsch Coliseum — at the most important time of the year — is a heck of a reason for the blood to pump even faster.
“It’s just exciting when you’re playing in a packed barn,” Mudbugs defenseman Tristan Zarsky said. “It’s all the people you see around town at promos and the regular fans. Everyone is ecstatic. Not only does the crowd give us energy, but it’s something they have to deal with – especially with the way we play.”
With eight victories in their past 10 games, the Mudbugs (29-14-7) are now within four points of second place in the South Division. The top two teams in every division host first-round playoff series. As it stands now, it could be the difference between Shreveport hosting Game 5 with Lone Star or having to visit the Shoebox in North Richland Hills, Texas for a winner-take all.
Shreveport is 14-8-4 at home and has sold out two of its past four home games. The franchise leads the North American Hockey League in average attendance (2,672).
“You don’t have to be a hockey fan to come and have a great night at George’s Pond,” Mudbugs head coach Jason Campbell said. “The front office has done a great job. We need to keep this going. It’s a lot of fun.”
The Mudbugs have a golden opportunity to solidify a run at the No. 2 spot when they host seventh-place El Paso (15-31-4) at The George tonight and Saturday (face-off at 7:11 p.m. both nights).
Second place is up for grabs, but a playoff spot isn’t yet a guarantee. Shreveport is four points ahead of fourth-place (the last playoff spot) New Mexico. Amarillo is 12 points behind the Mudbugs.
Note: The Shreveport Mudbugs High School hockey teams enter the final weekend of their regular seasons. They have competed in the AT&T Metroplex High School Hockey Association. Shreveport varsity forward Landon Kay was named the best forward in the Varsity Bronze division.
Kay, a sophomore, leads his division in goals (25), assists (15) and points (40) in 16 games this season. Kay will be among those who will be honored at a Dallas Stars game on April 6.
The Mudbugs’ junior varsity squad enters the final weekend with an opportunity to make the playoffs for the time. Shreveport (7-6-3) boasts a three-game win streak, but must win its final two games Sunday to have a shot at the postseason.
Mudbugs vs. El Paso
Tonight, Saturday (7:11 p.m.)
George’s Pond at Hirsch Coliseum
Contact Roy at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @roylangiii