Saturday, May 06, 2006

5/6 BUGS vs. LAREDO (GAME 5, President's Cup Finals)

The Bucks held out for the remaning two minutes of play and will be crowned President's Cup Champions tonight. It's a disappointing way for the Mudbugs to lose after such a promising start to this game. It'll be remembered for the three goal lead that was given away, and perhaps for the mistake that led to the game winner.

The Mudbugs came into this game with all the right intentions and effort but in the end Laredo was just too much.

There aren't too many worse times in a game, or a series, to make a critical mistake in the defensive end. But with 2:05 left in this game, a mistake by the Mudbugs defense has handed this game on a silver plate to the Bucks, Igor Agarunov scoring his second of the game to give Laredo a 4-3 lead. It's along way to come from 3-0 down but four straight goals may have done the Mudbugs in.

1:06 left and Ken Carroll has been pulled.

Quade Lightbody had a great chance to seal this thing for the Mudbugs, but wristed his close range shot straight into the mid-section of Grumet-Morris.

2:51 left in the game, and although the Mudbugs look most likely of the two teams to win it in regulation, the Bucks are eager to pounce on the counter. It could go either way.

Here's a golden chance for the Mudbugs. They have the man advantage at a critical point in this game. Can they make it count?

Since Laredo tied the game early in this closing period both teams have been playing defensive hockey, trying to make sure they don't lose the game instead of going out and winning it. The Mubdugs are starting to be more aggressive up front because they know they HAVE to win this game. Laredo would be happy getting lucky on the break and stealing it tonight. If not, they two more games at home to wrap it up. All the pressure is on the Bugs to go for it.

Todd Griffith has tied the game at 3-3 just 47 seconds into the third period after a feed from Ladislav Kouba sent him clear of the Mudbugs defense. His shot squeeked over the shoulder of Ken Carroll and into the back of the net. A shocking collapse from the Mudbugs, who were in control at 3-0 after 20 minutes.

Two goals early in the second period have put Laredo back in this contest. The Mudbugs have done well to get back on their feet after that early setback and have had chances of their own, but right now it's end-to-end stuff as both teams believe they can win this game.

The Bugs have the edge at 3-2 heading into the final 20 minutes of play on home ice this season. They'll need to give it their all to hold onto this lead and take the series back to Laredo on Tuesday. It's not over yet.

With 4:11 to play in the second period Ryan Manitowich misses the target after being set up Chad Spurr on a 2-on-1 break.

Two quick goals in this second period and Laredo has made a game of it. The Mudbugs were firmly in control in the first period, but are a little shaken by the way the Bucks have responded. It's 3-2 midway through the second period, but it's now an evenly-contested game.

After 20 minutes this thing was headed back to Laredo for sure. Now the Mudbugs have some work still to do here.

Jeff Bes has made it 3-2 just a few seconds into the Shephard penalty. It's 3-2. This game is NOT over with just yet.

Scott Shepherd has picked up a double minor for high sticking. Here's a chance for Laredo to get into the game if they can take advantage.

The Mudbugs penalty killing unit is at 85.11% this playoff season. The Lardeo powerplay is the best this postseason at 24.69%.

A little under two minutes played in the first period and Igor Agarunov picks up a rebound to bring the Bucks back into this game.

Ken Carroll made the inital save, but could only push the puck out to the left of his crease where Agarunov pounced on the loose puck and put it into the unguarded net. 3-1 Bugs.

Laredo's top offensive line of Jeff Bes, Chris Grenville and Brent Cullaton were all a minus-three in the first period.

In the first three games of this series, the Mudbugs couldn't so much as buy a goal, losing all three games and scoring only four goals in the process.

In the last 40 minutes of play (last period of Friday's game and first of this one) the Mudbugs have torched Laredo for 7 goals.

You have to wonder how much the Bucks are missing Dube, or whether it's just a case of the Mudbugs getting their game back in gear. Either way, if things keep going this way, this series will head back to Laredo on Tuesday for at least one more game. Game 7, if necessary, would be Thursday.

There's still a ways to go though. First the Bugs have 39 seconds of a Laredo powerplay to see off. Then they have to see how the Bucks respond to a 3-0 first period, deal with whatever they throw at them, and get this game safely in the bag without any casualties.

It's the end of the first period and Bugs and ruling the ice at the moment. Two goals from Brassard, one shorthanded, and another from Dale Lupul and the Bugs are firmly in control of this game through 20 minutes.

It'll be interesting to see how the Bucks respond to this. Will they cut their losses and send a message as the teams head back to Laredo for games 6 and 7? Or will they come out hard and try to rescue this one?

Carroll hasn't been tested yet. Grumet-Morris looks like he's more than a little shaken.

He hadn't scored in 11 Finals games. He now has two! Chris Brassard breaks away on a shorthanded effort, set up by Dale Lupul along the right side boards, and slides the puck under Grumet-Morris for a 3-0 Bugs lead.

Quade Lightbody is still in the box for the Bugs. Priority mission for the next 30 seconds or so - keep the sheet clean and go into the break with a three-goal lead.

A similar play to the one where Brassard put the Bugs in the lead and Dale Lupul has put the Bugs two goals for the good with 3:23 left in the period and on their 10th shot of the game.

Shane Palahicky did the bump-n-grind work in the right corner, feeding Lupul who was advancing into the slot and let a one-timer rip.

Officially the Bucks only have 1 shot on goal for the period, although they have had a couple of close calls and one soft shot on target.

Chris Brassard hadn't scored in 11 Finals games prior to tonight. With 5:32 left in the first period he's broken that duck with a close range slap-shot from Chad Spurr's feed to put the Bugs 1-0 up.

The Bugs have had the better of the chances in this first period and it's finally paid off.

Another extra man situation for the Mudbugs, but this time it's Laredo who pose the biggest threat on the breakway. Steve Simoes was denied twice by Carroll, the first on a 2-on-1 breakaway, the second off a great feed from James Hiebert from the right corner.

Grumet steps up big again to deny Palahicky as the powerplay chance goes by.

Laredo goalie Dov Grumet-Morris is being tested early on a Mudbugs powerplay. Brett Smith forced a big save when Scott Shepherd found him all alone but Smith's one-timer to the top right corner was brilliantly caught by Grumet-Morris.

The Bugs have 3 shots, but no success, on the early man advantage.

The start of the game is just minutes away. The Bugs know that game 5 and this championship series are both on the line. It's a must win.

But talk about "revenge" for their 2004 Game 7 loss is also on the line. Defeat in this series and there can't be any excuses this time around.

Bring it on!

You have to wonder how much of an impact the injury to Serge Dube will have on the Bucks. He's likely to miss the rest of the season with a leg injury.

Dube led the team among defensemen in the regular season with 55 points (14 goals, 41 assists) and a team-leading plus-39. He's also the team-leading defenseman in the playoffs with 9 points (3 goals, 6 assists) in 15 games.

The Bugs have their own adjustments to make with Chris Shaw not playing tonight because of the injury he sustained last night, but the loss of Dube will either hurt, or inspire the Bucks who are hungry to seal the deal tonight.

The Mudbugs' played a great hockey game, but may have played their best period of the entire postseason in Friday's third.
Forget the four goals, Bossier-Shreveport, a very desperate team, took it to a very physical Bucks team, they won the battles in the corners for the first time in the series. Jeff Bes didn't have an entire sheet of ice to work his magic.
Tonight's Game 5 is infinitely more difficult than Friday. The Bucks will have a sense of urgency while the Mudbugs have the task of carrying the momentum for a period of 24 hours. This is the second of the what the Mudbugs hope will be four must-win games.
A victory tonight truly puts the series in doubt again. Yes, Laredo would still be in the driver's seat, but they'd have some company up front.
I just have a feeling if this thing shifts back to Laredo, the hockey gods are going to have something spectacular in the works.
But none of that matters if the Bugs dont exhaust themselves with at least 60 minutes of the effort and execution it did in the third period last night.
Laredo will likely be without Serge Dube, who appeared to suffer a rather significant leg injury in the third period Friday. Dube is the Bucks' best defenseman, yes, but also one of the best, if not the best, in the entire Central Hockey League.
The Bucks will also counter Ken Carroll with rookie Dov Grumet-Morris. The kid has been outstanding in this series, but has offered up several stray rebounds. Thus far, Bossier-Shreveport has been unable to capitilize.

Friday, May 05, 2006

5/5 BUGS vs LAREDO (GAME 4, President's Cup Finals) W 5-1


Jeff Bes scored midway through the second and the game stands tied at 1 heading to the third.
The Mudbugs had a goal taken away late in the second when referee Fred L'Ecuyer ruled a high stick was used my Blair Manning to deflect the puck past the Laredo goalie.
TIME: 8:44 p.m.

At times during this series -- except during the Mudbugs' power play -- these teams have played outstanding at different times. Tonight, there is outstanding end-to-end action.
TIME: 8:23 p.m.

For those of you in office pools, the number was 20. Bossier-Shreveport ended the madness at 20 straight unsuccessful power plays with Brett Smith's tally late in the second period.
TIME: 7:46 p.m.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006


Jeff Bes, who had been silent for the whole game, just gave the Bucks the game-winner less than two minutes into OT. The Bucks have a 3-0 series lead in the President's Cup finals.
Cullaton and Igor Agarunov get the assists. Cullaton had the initial shot and Carroll sprawled to make the save. His momentum carried him out of position and Bes knocked the puck into a wide-open net.
Time: 9:55 p.m.

This game will either be over in the first 5:00 of OT or we're going to be here all night.

My pick for the game-winner? Not Jeff Bes, the Mudbugs are too focused on how about his linemate Brent Cullaton, who was the Bucks' top goal-scorer this season.
Sorry Bugs fans...Laredo has got a ton of momentum since tying the score.
- B.V.
Time: 9:42 p.m.

Each side is chugging for the game-winner, but it looks like overtime at the CTC with less than 1:30 remaining...
Time: 9:27 pm.

The Mudbugs fans are chanting for Sterns' head after a non-call on a Laredo defender. Brent Smith intercepted a pass at the blue line and was in on net, but the defender had good positioning and locked him before he could get a shot off. It was a good solid defensive play just like they teach you from the first day a hockey player puts on a pair of skates. Take the body, don't worry about puck.
Nothing like hearing a few thousand fans chant, "Ref, you suck!"
Time: 9:15 p.m.

UH OH...
The Bugs are in jeopardy of letting this game get away from them. The Bucks are skating harder, beating the Bugs to pucks and controlling the tempo.
Sterns finally calls a penalty on Laredo for holding and the Bugs have yet another power play.
Time: 9:09 p.m.

Referee Tom Sterns has swallowed his whistle in the third period. There have been a couple of questionable non-calls that probably would have drawn a penalty in the first period.
Laredo ties the score off Todd Griffith's (an amateur the Bucks added for the playoffs) wrister that beats Carroll over the glove hand.
13:30 left to go...1-1
- B.V.
Time: 9:06 p.m.

Seriously. I want to know what that guy has for breakfast.
I've got problems dragging myself out of bed in the morning, but his motor never stops. He just finished one shift where he had a breakaway chance on net, circled back up ice and intercepted a pass and then was back in the Laredo zone mixing it up in the corner.

Oh, and the Mudbugs have another pp chance coming up. Let's see what they can do.
-Brian Vernellis
Time: 8:35 p.m.

Ugh. The Mudbugs are having a tough time just getting the puck over the blue line and setting up the power play. Of course, as soon as I write it, the Bugs get a quick shot on net that Grumet-Morris has got to look sharp. The Bugs anemic power play still lacks any bite. The Bucks skaters are beating them to loose pucks and clogging up the neutral zone. Boss-Shreve falls to 0-for-15 and 1-for-18 in the series.
-Brian Vernellis
Time: 8:22 p.m.

The Bucks thought they tied the score, but Ken Carroll makes a tremendous save in the 4-on-4 situation to keep it 1-0.
-Brian Vernellis
Time: 8:11 p.m.

Ryan Manitowich's speed to the net forces a Laredo penalty (hooking), but the Mudbugs can't capitalize on another power play. Roy Lang is picking the Mudbugs will go 20 power plays without a goal.
The Bucks are going into the box, so here's No. 16.

And just as quickly, Dale Lupul gets a penalty so there goes that power play chance.
-Brian Vernellis
Time: 8:10 p.m.

So far, so good. The Mudbugs are up 1-0 after the first period. You can tell the Bucks are the better skating team, but the Bugs have controlled the game for the most part. Laredo has had a few chances and avoided a disaster when Grumet-Morris played the puck and nearly knocked into his own net.
The Mudbugs had better stay in sharp in the second period.
-Brian Vernellis
Time: 7:48 p.m.

The Mudbugs are back on the power play and are showing signs of breaking out of their horrible post-season slump. They are definitely moving the puck better and are crisper with their passes. They're also getting good separation and creating a lot of space for themselves and keeping the Bucks moving. As long as they can keep the Bucks moving, there's a greater chance of catching them out of position.
-Brian Vernellis
Time: 7:34 p.m.

Laredo is overwhelmed so far. They've had one rush down ice and had to ice the puck a couple of times, but the Mudbugs are swarming all over the Bucks zone...
The hard work has paid off - less than 2:00 into the game - the Mudbugs strike first with Scott Sheppard beating Dov Grumet-Morris.
And, the Bucks just took a penalty. Mudbugs up 1-0.
-Brian Vernellis
Time: 7:10 p.m.

The key to the Mudbugs win tonight - first and foremost - don't give the Bucks room to operate. If the Bucks have room to skate, it could be very costly.
That's how the Mudbugs were able to advance against a talented offense like Colorado - bottle them up and win all the 1-on-1 battles.

Here's my pick for tonight's three stars...

3. Jeff Bes

2. Dan Wildfong

1. Ken Carroll

Safe picks...I know. But in a big game like this one, go with the guys who perform in the big ones.
-Brian Vernellis
Time: 7:04 p.m.

Bugs vs Laredo Game 3 - A Fan's Perspective

Another one gone...
Time: 10:00

Laredo wins. Yeah, I know what you're thinking. Odds are, if you're a Bugs fan, I'm thinking the same thing. Bes scored 1:57 into OT while Kenny was sprawled out on the ice. That marks Bes's third game-winning goal in this series. If the Bugs still plan on winning the President's Cup, something has got to change. Let's hope things are different at Friday's game.

Here we go
Time: 9:33 P.M.

...into Overtime. After a 15 minute intermission, sudden death overtime will begin.

Laredo Goal
Time: 9:06 P.M.

Laredo's Todd Griffin ties the game with a goal at 5:48 into the 3rd with assists from Frantisek Lukes and Adam Rivet. Bugs better step it up if they want to win this one.

A second too late
Time: 8:42 P.M.

The Bugs finally put the puck in the net on the 8th power play of the night... however, it was literally a second after the horn sounded the end of the 2nd period. Good job guys... now let's see if y'all can get it in the goal during the period...

Glad to have ya back, Kenny!
Time: 8:10 P.M.

Ken Carroll is awesome. No doubt about it after the 2 fantastic saves he just made against Laredo. Laredo thought they scored... they had their arms up in celebration and everything. The best part of it (well, depending on how you look at it) is that Kenny really hasn't had any help from the defense. That just goes to show how truly awesome he is. Welcome back, Carroll!

Time: 8:02 P.M.

It's 1:25 until the second period begins, and its amazing how quiet it is. Attendance is unbelievably low for such an important game. Granted it is a Tuesday night, but for this to be a Finals game, attendance is certain below par.

Time: 7:40 P.M.

Man, did Laredo's goalie have luck on his side... He was inches away from scoring a point for the Bugs. He was sweeping the puck around to the back of the goal, and he hit the post. Lucky for him it did... Ruskowski wouldn't have been too happy if it had gone in!

Somebody messed up...
Time: 7:25 P.M.

Whoever puts the number of the player and the amount of time when a penalty is issued on the scoreboard obviously does not know players' numbers very well. Shane Palahicky, number 20, received a 2 minute minor for tripping. He sat in the box. Yet, Chris Shaw's number, 42, was displayed on the scoreboard. Poor Shaw... he was innocent this time. He was at the bench with the team. Hopefully the crowd knew that it was actually Palahicky in the box.

Bugs Goal
Time 7:11 P.M.

Looks like the Bugs may be off to a good start... Sheppard scores less than 2 minutes in the first with assists from Manning and Smith. If Shepp and Manning can get into their tag-team scoring groove, the Bugs may come out ahead this game.

Let's go...
Time: 7:09 P.M.

Here we are at Game 3 of the President's Cup Finals againnst Laredo. Hopefully the Bugs will step up tonight and make something happen. Kenny is back in goal... Cash was good, but Kenny knows what its like to have this kind of pressure on his shoulders. Also out at the start of the game are Jeremy Downs, Scott Sheppard, Quade Lightbody, and Brett Smith.

Tom Sterns is the referee tonight. I can already hear the boos...