By ROY LANG III, Journal Sports
One look at the standings would make it seem as if it’s easy to identify the focus for the Shreveport Mudbugs entering the penultimate road series of the 2022-23 regular season.
The Mudbugs need just a single point to clinch a playoff spot in the South Division. However, with six games remaining, the odds of missing the postseason are astronomical. The biggest obstacle in front of Shreveport is Oklahoma, the team with the best record (42-11-1) in the North American Hockey League and winners in five of six games against the Mudbugs this season.
This weekend’s trip to Oklahoma City gives Shreveport (32-15-7) an opportunity grab momentum against a squad it will likely have to run through to clinch another trip to the Robertson Cup semifinals.
“It’s a good weekend for us to see where we’re at,” said Mudbugs head coach Jason Campbell, whose team opens the two-game series tonight. “They are one of the top teams in the league. Hopefully we’re right there.”
The Mudbugs had a seven-game win streak snapped at Odessa on Saturday and haven’t had an issue competing with the Warriors. Closing the deal is another story.
The season series has been rather remarkable.
Shreveport scored the first three goals Oct. 29 at the Blazers Ice Centre and led 3-0 with less than 8 minutes left in the game before losing 4-3.
On Jan. 13, Shreveport wasted a 3-1 lead.
The next night, the Mudbugs blew a 3-0 lead when Oklahoma scored six unanswered goals on George’s Pond.
“That’s been a while ago,” Campbell said of the meltdowns.
The Warriors are stacked at the top of their lineup. They boast two of the top-five point-getters in the league (Joey Delgreco, 65 points; Drew Sutton, 61).
“They are pretty loaded up front,” Mudbugs forward Jaden Goldie said. “They have a lot of speed and they like to spread the ice. They attack off the rush really well — we have to play the best defensive game we can and hope we bury a few.”
Campbell gave his team an extra day off after the return from Odessa. At this point of the season, managing the health of a team can be as important as acquiring points.
“Guys have been really working hard lately,” Campbell said. “We thought the extra day might be the best thing to rejuvenate and get ready for a big weekend.”
Another big weekend it is — time to prove the Mudbugs can not only hang with the best, but they can finish them off, too.
“If not, we better get back to the drawing board quick,” Campbell said.
Mudbugs at Oklahoma
Tonight, Saturday (both 7:15 p.m.)
Contact Roy at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @roylangiii