In what was expected to be a tight, defensive battle, the Shreveport Mudbugs needed just an early first period goal from Ryan Burnett to go along with a suffocating defensive effort to defeat the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights 2-0 in the opening game of their best-of-three semifinal series at the Robertson Cup championships in Blaine, Minnesota.
Shreveport got off to a fast start, controlling the early stages of the game, and were rewarded with Burnett’s goal just 3:05 into the game.
After a scoreless, but hard-hitting second period, Shreveport came out strong to start the third period again. They added a key insurance goal 5:19 into the period on a shot by Brandon VanSweden, and just as importantly, only allowed one shot on goal against by WBS through the first ten minutes of that period.
With the victory, Shreveport takes a 1-0 lead in the series, and now needs one more victory to reach the NAHL championship game. The two teams meet again on Saturday for game two.
Notes and Thoughts
-This game lived up to its’ billing as two teams that, while maybe not as skilled as Fairbanks in the game prior, both played an incredibly hard, physical brand of hockey. It isn’t always pretty, but there is a certain enjoyment in watching a slugfest like this.
-Holding WBS to just 11 shots on goal, and just three in the final period while holding a lead, is extremely impressive from Shreveport. They’ve got some really underrated defensemen that controlled play and kept the puck out of their own end.
-Minot, followed by Fairbanks, brought the biggest crowds of the day due to the number of local players each has, but Shreveport definitely had the loudest, rowdiest group of fans. They’re pretty serious about their hockey in the NAHL’s South Division and it makes for a fun atmosphere at games.
3:05 Ryan Burnett from Nikolai Jenson 1-0 Shreveport
Burnett won a puck in the right corner and muscled his way to the net where he was able to sneak a puck through the goalie.
5:19 Brandon VanSweden from Robert Baranovskis 2-0 Shreveport
VanSweden got the puck in the high slot and ripped a wrister high blocker side on Stoever.