Saturday, January 07, 2006

1/3 BUGS vs. YOUNGSTOWN (L, 5-3)

8-1-0 IS STILL OK RIGHT? RIGHT?

3,907 fans watched the Steelhounds defeat the Mudbugs 5-3. The first time in nine years that the team has lost the first game of the calendar year. The final goal was scored by Scott Barnes with assists by Darryl Lloyd and Kelly Sickavish.

I am not sure where the fans were tonight, but I hope they are enjoying the Orange Bowl, or Veronica Mars, or NCIS, or whatever else is showing on a Tuesday night.

A very weird vibe is going through the building right now as I have never seen 4000 people clear out of a building this fast in my life. I can understand the frustration they have right now. The Mudbugs are barely above .500 with a 13-12-3 record. Their special teams have been abysmal for most of the season, their All Star goaltender was pulled during a game within the division, and the next time they are skating on home ice is Friday the 13th. The Mudbugs need someone to step up on the ice and put the team on their back. I am not sure who that player is, but they need to step up soon.

My girlfriend Kate just joined me in the press box and asked the important question. Does our special teams suck that bad, or is Youngstown that good? I'm not sure if anyone can answer that question except for the man behind the bench. Tonight we made the Youngstown Steelhounds look like the 1972 Boston Bruins (led by the real best Defenseman ever, Bobby Orr. I don't care what Roy Lang says). We had special teams that looked like the Mighty Ducks before the flying V saved their season. The flying V is probably not in the team's near future, and Adam Banks is probably not going to be sent to the team in a fluke. I am sure that a man with the resume of Scott Muscutt can find the answer in the next couple of weeks. In a fickle sports town like Shreveport the past has shown that the attendance numbers are usually directly proportional to the winning percentage. The next four games might be the most important games of the season.

Friday, January 6 - At arch rival Wichita in a battle of last year's conference semi finalists.

Saturday, January 7 - The Mudbugs play at hated division rival Memphis.

Friday, January 13 - A return home engagement with the Laredo Bucks. This game sold out last year and literally changed the attendance figures at the CenturyTel Center. This year may see less than half of the attendance of last year's game.

Saturday, January 14 - A home game against the new look Fort Worth Brahmas.

Have a very safe and prosperous 2006 everybody.

TIME - 9:52 PM



BRASSARD TAKES THAT PENALTY?

Chris Brassard was sent to the "sin bin" for slashing with 2:41 left in the period to give Youngstown a man advantage. The amazing thing is that the slash was on the goaltender right in front of referee Fred L'Ecuyer. Normally Fred lets the boys play, but on a play that obvious he had to call it.

TIME - 9:22 PM

MUDBUGS THIRD MAN ADVANTAGE GOES BY THE WAYSIDE

David Cacciola has looked great in goal since entering the game in the second period, unfortunately the defense of Youngstown has looked better. The Mudbugs' third powerplay ended with no shots on goal for the home team and an odd man rush for the Steelhounds who amazingly did not score.

Ken Carroll did not look happy when leaving the ice in the second. After tossing his helmet and stick, Carroll exited stage left to the locker room. I can't say anyone can blame him since he is probably not accustomed to finishing a game in which he started, on the bench.

The Mudbugs will go back on the power play with 7:36 to play after a two minute minor penalty on Kris Mallette for tripping.

TIME - 9:12 PM

CARROLL PULLED IN SECOND PERIOD, TIED AFTER TWO

A rough night for Ken Carroll comes to an end with 4:48 to play in the second period after allowing four goals in sixteen shots. Scott Barnes tallies his twelfth goal of the year off of assists by Jeff Christian and Jonathan Gagnon.

David Cacciola takes over the netminding duties for Carrol. Cacciola is currently sporting a 3.42 goals against average and an .886 save percentage.

I don't want to sound religous right now, but if the Mudbugs expect to win this game they are going to have to make the third period an un-Christian period for the Steelhounds.

The Steelhounds outshot the Mudbugs 13-9 during the second period and are an unbelievable 4-7 on the powerplay tonight. This coming from the team that is currently tenth in the league with a 14.63 powerplay percentage.

The Mudbugs have got to clamp down on their penalty kill, stay out of the penalty box, and capitalize on their rushes to the net. Brett Smith, Ryan Manitowich, and Chris Brassard all had opportunities to score in the second but were shut down by David St. Germain

TIME - 8:43 PM

LUPUL VIES FOR GORDIE HOWE HAT TRICK...IN SECOND PERIOD ALONE

Dale Lupul scores his second goal of the year at 12:54 in the first and three minutes later gets in his second fight of the year. The former came off of assists by Ryan Manitowich and Brett Smith, the latter off of an assist by Steelhound forward Darryl Lloyd's head.

The game is tied at three apiece after Youngstown forward Jonathan Gagnon scored his ninth goal of the year after helpers by Jeff Christian and Chris Richards.

TIME - 8:15 PM

ALCOMBRACK TAKEN OFF THE ICE

Steelhound defenseman Jeff Alcombrack was helped off of the ice after crashing into the boards in his own defensive zone. He placed no weight on his right leg when leaving the ice and was not taken to the locker room but to the zamboni entrance. I can only speculate, but that is never a good thing when you are taken to the entrance off of the ice that leads to the outside doors. He did receive a nice ovation while leaving the ice but was in noticable pain. I did not see what led to the injury, no players were around him at all when I noticed him laying on the ice, and there were no penalies on the play. We will keep a good thought for Mr. Alcombrack.

FIRST PERIOD RECAP

The period belonged to two players. Brett Smith who scored his 15th goal of the year on assists by Jeremy Downs and Ryan Manitowich. The goal was scored with 44 seconds left in the period and tied the game at two heading into the first intermission.

The tie was important because Jeff Christian only shot the puck twice during the first period, which is good news. The bad news is that he found the back of the net on both shots to record his now league leading 27th goal of the season. Jonathan Gagnon and Jeff Alcombrack provided the assists on the goal. Both of Christian's goals were power play goals. This is Christian's third game against the Mudbugs. He has taken nine shots. He has scored four goals including three power play goals during these games. I am not a coach by any means, but I would be willing to wager that the number 72 (Christian's number) will come up in the locker room during intermission.

The Mudbugs led the Steelhounds in shots during the first 15-12.

AND THANK YOU MR. VODRAZKA

Milan Vodrazka scores his third goal of the year on an even strength goal at the 11:44 mark of the first period to tie things up for the Mudbugs. Brett Smith and Blair Manning provided the helpers on the goal which should be of no surprise to the Steelhounds. Smith (4 goals, 1 assist) and Manning (5 assists) share the team lead in scoring against Youngstown with five points each.

TIME - 7:29 PM

THANK YOU FOR PROVING MY POINT MR. CHRISTIAN

Jeff Christian scores his 26th goal of the season on a power play goal off of assists by Chris Richards, and Jeff Alcombrack. Ryan Manitowich was guilty of the hooking infraction that led to the power play. Youngstown takes the 1-0 lead with 17:10 left to play in the first period.

TIME - 7:20 PM

LINE CHANGES FOR THE MUDBUGS

Coach Scott Muscutt has changed his forward lines a bit for tonights game.

Dan Wildfong, Chris Brassard, and Chad Spurr started the game.
Milan Vodrazka, Shane Palahicky, and Jason Campell were the second line.
Ryan Manitowich, Brett Smith, and Blair Manning made up the third line.

One more little tidbit of trivia for tonight's game. The Mudbugs are 8-0-0 in their first game of the calendar year in their first eight seasons. Hopefully that streak will continue.

TIME - 7:15 PM

PREVIEW OF TONIGHT'S GAME

Roy Lang is celebrating the holiday season back in Chicago this weekend so you will be stuck with me for the game tonight. The Mudbugs are 1-2-1 since I have been blogging for Roy so I am hoping we can pull even in the win column tonight.

Tonight’s game marks the third meeting of the year between the Youngstown Steelhounds and the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs. The Mudbugs have gotten three points out of the previous two games winning the first game 4-3 on 10/22 and losing 7-6 in a shootout on 11/22.

Kudos go out to four members of the Mudbugs as forward Scott Sheppard, defenseman Dale Lupul, and goaltender Ken Carroll were all named to the 2006 CHL Northern Conference All-Star team earlier today. This marks the first appearance by both Sheppard (currently assigned to the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League) and Lupul. For Carroll, this marks his third consecutive All Star game appearance. The fourth member of the Mudbugs making the trip to Hidalgo, Texas is broadcaster Steve Mears. I believe that all of us in Mudbug Nation and those who have listened to Steve in games televised on CHL TV agree that the honor is much deserved for the voice of the Mudbugs. Congratulations gentlemen, make sure that you bring me back a hat.

It is the All Star for the Youngstown Steelhounds that the Mudbugs will need to keep an eye on tonight. Forward Jeff Christian is second in the CHL in goals with 25, second in the league in power play goals with 11, second in the league in game winning goals with 6, holds the CHL best scoring streak at 6 games with a goal, and holds the CHL game high with 4 goals scored in a November 4 contest against Oklahoma where he scored all of the teams goals in a 4-3 win.

Back on the ice tonight is defensemen Chris Shaw (activated from the 45 day IR) and Dale Lupul who has missed the last three games. This should be welcome relief for the Mudbug blue liners (Chad Kemp, Jason Basile, Quade Lightbody, and Jeremy Downs) who have been logging ridiculous minutes in the pair’s absence. The thoughts and prayers of the Mudbug nation are heavy tonight as this marks the first game played since the passing of defenseman Craig Minard's father. God speed Mr. Minard.

The key to the game may lie between the pipes as David St. Germain is in goal for the Steelhounds and has a 3.90 Goals against average with and .892 save percentage. In goal for the Mudbugs is Ken Carroll who relieved Paul Schonfelder on 10/22 and stopped 14 shots while allowing one goal to pick up his first win of the year.

Look for the first goal of the night. The Mudbugs are 10-3-1 when scoring first in their contests while the Steelhounds are 4-10-0 when they allow their opponent to score first.

TIME - 7:00 PM

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