By ROY LANG III, Journal Sports
Although the playoffs don’t begin for another couple of weeks, and, as always, the Shreveport Mudbugs will be there, the franchise has plenty to celebrate when the final regular-season homestand begins tonight.
Shreveport is red hot, a winner in nine of its past 10 games. A playoff matchup with rival Lone Star is a guarantee, but the Mudbugs’ late-season push has them in contention for the No. 2 seed in the South Division, which comes with home-ice advantage in the first round.
The Mudbugs (34-15-7) will play last-place Corpus Christi on George’s Pond at Hirsch Coliseum tonight and Saturday (face-off at 7:11 p.m. both nights) and begin the weekend three points behind Lone Star with four games remaining.
“We still have a job to do,” Mudbugs head coach Jason Campbell said. “We have to take care of our job this weekend. If we get a little help from around the league, maybe we move up in the standings. But, first things first.
“We know how we need to play. We know there are still things we need to fix. The focus is just on us, fine-tuning our game. Ultimately, we’re preparing to bring our game to (Lone Star in the postseason), instead of worrying about everything they’re going to be doing.”
Shreveport is 6-0 against Corpus Christi this season.
“These games matter,” Mudbugs defenseman Logan Heroux said. “If we come away with two clean sweeps and Lone Star only gets four points the rest of the way, that’s the 2 seed for us. That’s really big for us. These games are huge.
“The last-place teams? We don’t care. We’re going to approach this the same way we did (first-place) Oklahoma.”
The two-game series against the IceRays (11-38-7) at The George could be a victory lap for the front office. Shreveport enters this weekend in its usual spot, atop the North American Hockey League’s attendance list with an average of 2,669 fans per game. Corpus Christi finished its home schedule with a 2,618 average. Amarillo still has two home dates remaining with a 2,558 average.
“I heard about (The George) before I got there,” first-year forward Ryan Burke said. “There are so many fans; they are diehard fans, too. They support you through everything – good and bad. It’s amazing. It’s special here.”
The franchise is running on all cylinders; nearly back to pre-Covid levels. During the 2018-19 campaign, Shreveport led the NAHL with an average of more than 2,800 fans per game.
Mudbugs vs. Corpus Christi
Tonight and Saturday
George’s Pond at Hirsch Coliseum
7:11 p.m. face-off (both nights)
Contact Roy at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @roylangiii