Saturday, January 21, 2006

1/21 BUGS vs. MEMPHIS (W, 1-0)

GOOD SIGNS ON GUARANTEED WIN NIGHT
Lots of creative signs at the CenturyTel Center on Saturday night. My favorite, of course, was a clean, good-spirited effort from someone in section 119:
Bugs
Underrated?
Goofy
Sportswriter
Asked owner Rob Walker, who sat in front of the creative mind, if I could get a hold of it. Naturally, they gave it to Brett Smith. Come on!
TIME: 11:17 p.m.

BACK-TO-BACK, NOW THAT'S THE WAY TO END A WEEKEND
The Mudbugs did win back-to-back games. And what might even mean more in the long run is the fact they pulled out a pair of one-goal affairs. The 1-0 shutout win over Memphis sent Bossier-Shreveport home happy on the weekend for once. It's definitely better the Mudbugs can get back on the horse Tuesday instead of waiting until next weekend. The game against Rio Grande Valley offers another opportunity for this team to continue to build on this fine weekend of hockey.
David Cacciola's performance in net tonight was nothing short of amazing. The Memphis power play is stout and Cacciola and his defender blanked the RiverKings in all eight attempts.
TIME: 10:20 p.m.

BUGS WIN ANOTHER CLOSE ONE
This one wasn't easy either, but the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs defeated the Memphis RiverKings at the CenturyTel Center on Saturday, marking just the second time since October the team has won both games in one weekend.
TIME: 9:37 p.m.

BUGS DO WELL WITH THE LEAD
The Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs are 9-0-2 when leading after two periods. Meanwhile, Memphis is 1-13 when trailing after two periods. It looks pretty good for the Bugs, who hold a 1-0 lead, from here.
TIME: 9:08 p.m.

NET CRASHER
Mudbugs veteran Dan Wildfong crashed the net and scored to give the Mudbugs a 1-0 lead midway through the second period. The goal set off a mini brawl with Bossier-Shreveport defenseman Quade Lightbody and Paul Mcbrien squaring off. Beside that lots of people danced but no gloves came off.
TIME: 8:42 p.m.

CACCIOLA GETS START ON 24TH BIRTHDAY
David Cacciola, the Mudbugs' rookie netminder and birthday boy, has made 9 saves through the first period while Michael Dilorenzo has made 11 for Memphis in a scoreless game.
TIME: 8:08 p.m.

GOALTENDERS STORY THUS FAR
Michael Dilorenzo just stoned Mudbugs veteran Jason Campbell on the doorstep and the game remains scoreless near the end of the first period. Campbell was parked to Dilorenzo's left during Bossier-Shreveport's recent power play and attempted to bang home a cross-ice pass. The goaltender slid to his left and stuffed Campbell.
TIME: 7:52 p.m.

SMITTY vs. STODDARD
Well, Brett Smith is still fired up. He dropped the gloves just 1:36 into Saturday's contest with Memphis defenseman Darrell Stoddard. As you might expect, Smith's effort was there, but the much more experienced Stoddard got the decision. Mudbugs trainer George Bullock Jr. is in the penalty box attending to Smith, who is bleeding. Nothing major though.
One thing you can never say about Smitty is that he never tries. Even in my horrific "B" grade I didn't hint at that. The fact that he is willing to go out and fight a guy like Stoddard -- while not the smartest move ever -- shows that he is serious about leading this team to a different second half.
TIME: 7:23 p.m.

DONNY P ROCKS
There appears to be about a 10-minute delay for the start of tonight's game against Memphis, but RiverKings captain Don Parsons -- a Mudbugs' fan "favorite" is sitting on the boards all by himself in front of the Memphis bench and using his stick as a guitar to play along to "Welcome to the Jungle."
Classic.
TIME: 7:08 p.m.

MEMPHIS TERRIBLE ON SATURDAYS
The RiverKings enter tonight 1-9 when playing on Saturday nights. Wow, they definitely don't like back-to-back games either.

S-T-A-T-S SPELL INCONSISTENCY
More proof of inconsistency? Tonight will mark the 15th time the Mudbugs have played back-to-back games this season. Here is how the Mudbugs have fared in the second games.
Won 2nd game after winning first: 3 of 9.
Lost 2nd game after winning first: 6 of 9.
Lost second game of back-to-backs: 9 of 14.

If that doesn't spell inconsistency, nothing does.
That being said, if the Mudbugs play the way they did Friday night, good things will happen in the second half of the season. That was an all-around effort and something to be proud of.

A STRANGE MOTIVATIONAL TOOL
A couple of notes to Brett Smith: If you can't handle receiving a "B" when your team has lost more games than they've won, then what the heck are you going to do in a bigger city at a higher level? Philly, Chicago, New York ... the media there would absolutely be ripping the inconsistency. Having no talent is acceptable, but having talent and not using it is unacceptable.
SECOND: Smith's grade was the SECOND HIGHEST on the team! Obviously, I think he's valuable to Bossier-Shreveport. And no one got below a C-, hardly earth-shattering for a team struggling by their own standards.
THIRD: I didn't see Smith coming out of the locker room after the crushing Youngstown losses, the Fort Worth loss or any of the recent disasters at the CTC. But when he scores the game-winning goal he wants to saying everything written was garbage? Can't have it your way just when you win.
FOURTH: He said the team was "great." Ummm, I would like to see how many of his teammates think 16 wins and 17 losses is great. And I stated that I didn't think the Mudbugs HAD to make anymore moves. I clearly stated, with many, many facts that the team could be just fine if the effort was there EVERY night. I went out of my way to say this team wasn't finished, but they needed to pick it up. Friday's effort against Oklahoma City has to be an EVERY night occurance. And I wouldn't exactly start gloating just yet.
FIFTH: I am obviously not the only one that had a problem with the first half. Head coach Scott Muscutt has been beside himself on several occasions this season and John Madden, never one to interfere, felt the need to do so. Something wasn't right.
SIXTH: If it took something I wrote to motivate the team, that's likely not a good sign. Scott Muscutt is a heck of a coach and I would hope his words, or the thoughts of the guy who writes the paychecks would carry the weight, not someone's opinion not affiliated with the team.
FINALLY: It's funny how I never heard much over the past two years when 99.9-percent of the stories were positive. Why were they positive? Because they deserved to be. I am not here to be a cheerleader. My job is to tell the readers what is happening as I see it AND through the players' and coaches' eyes. I didn't take any personal jabs, didn't fire off any "off the record" stuff. I just gave my opinion of the first 32 games. That's why I have had plenty of quotes and interviews from players and the head coach completely backing up the point of my midseason recap.
As I've said a million times, my job sure is more fun when the team wins. Obviously so is their's.

HERE WE GO AGAIN
The Mudbugs have not won back-to-back games on a weekend since beating Fort Worth at home on Dec. 16 and 17. The time before that ... OCTOBER! If the Mudbugs truly are going to collect some momentum during the second half of the season, they must start winning games on consecutive night.
Friday, Bossier-Shreveport played perhaps its most inspired game of the year. To a man, the Mudbugs played physical hockey -- and that's what this team needs to do in order to be successful.
In Bossier-Shreveport can duplicate last night's effort against a inconsistent Memphis team, big MO might just start wearing teal and purple.

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