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NA Now: Shreveport Mudbugs

September 4, 2023

The NA Now series features a look at all 32 teams in the NAHL for the 2023-24 season, with a new team being highlighted daily, leading all the way up until the start of the regular season. NA Now looks into each NAHL team including interviews with all the head coaches in the NAHL, as they provide fans with their expectations and outlook for the season, including taking a look at their strengths as a team and thoughts on the league. It will also take a look back on last season and how each team fared and what they accomplished.

Shreveport Mudbugs

Head Coach: Jason Campbell (6th Season)

2022-23 record: 60 GP, 37-16-7, 81 pts. (3rd in the South Division)

2022-23 leading scorer: Drake Morse (51 points)

2023 Playoffs: Lost to the Oklahoma Warriors in the South Division Finals, 3 games to 0

2023-24 Division: South

First regular season game: Wednesday, September 13th vs. St. Cloud Norsemen

Home opener: Friday, September 22nd vs. Lone Star Brahmas

Having won two of the last three Robertson Cup Championships in 2018 and 2021, the Shreveport Mudbugs entered the 2022-23 with the confidence that they could do it once again with a veteran group of players. The Mudbugs made strides from the year prior, finishing with three more wins and eight more points.

As the playoffs began, the Brahmas met a familiar foe in the Division Semi-Finals, the Lone Star Brahmas. The two teams engaged in another memorable five-game series, with the Mudbugs winning 1-0 in Game 5. In the South Finals, the Mudbugs ran into the juggernaut that was the Oklahoma Warriors, who would go onto win the Robertson Cup with an undefeated playoff record as they swept the Mudbugs in three straight games.

“It was a good season. There are a lot of good hockey teams in the South, so any time you can make the playoffs, I think things have gone right. However, in order to make it a great season, you have to get to the Robertson Cup, so we fell short in that aspect, but Oklahoma was a great team and did the things they needed to do to beat us,” said Mudbugs head coach Jason Campbell, who is entering his 6th season behind the bench.

Entering the 2023-24 season, the Mudbugs need to replace a majority of their roster, which includes many key forwards and goaltending. Goaltender Simon Bucheler, who won the NAHL’s Goaltender of the Year award, is off to play NCAA Division I hockey at Mercyhurst. The Mudbugs also had eight more players age out and head off to play NCAA hockey. Campbell replacing goaltending the offense was the biggest priority for this season. “We needed to find some goaltending. We also lost a lot of goal-scoring and leadership up front. We are pleased with some of the depth we have up there and have a good veteran defensive corps returning,” said Campbell. “Hopefully the players we find can fill those voids and that they’ll be special in their own way.”

The team did add a veteran goalie in Carson Dorfman, who comes to Shreveport from the Springfield Jr. Blues. Dorfman posted a record of 11-8 with a 2.34 GAA and a .912 save percentage for Springfield. Among the key returners are defenseman Logan Heroux and forward Hayden Nichol. Heroux, who is committed to play NCAA Division I hockey at Ferris State, was second on the team in scoring last year with 40 points in 55 games played. Nichol had 33 points in 58 games played and is entering his third full season.

The Mudbugs will a part of the 9-team South Division, which now includes the Colorado Grit. Despite the extensive travel involved from Shreveport to the rest of the Division, Campbell said that it is something the team has embraced. “I love the fact we are adding teams. It is more opportunity for everyone. It’s why we do this. I love road trips and being around the team. It builds team chemistry. If you can navigate the South Division and make the playoffs then there is a pretty good chance that whoever comes out of the South Division has a great chance to win the Robertson Cup. It’s not just going to be one guy. It’s going to be a team effort to be successful this year,” said Campbell. Campbell is right. Since 2017, the Robertson Cup has been awarded to just five different teams and three of the five have come from the South Division, including Robertson Cup titles for the Mudbugs in 2018 and 2021.

Watch: NA Now video interview with Jason Campbell

It’s also no secret that the Mudbugs have a special bond with their fans, and it shows as they are always among the NAHL leaders in attendance. “There is a great relationship there between the staff, the players, and the fans. We do as much as we can in the community. Their support at the games is more about the relationship we have with them off the ice. It is a great environment. I think we have a great home-ice advantage because of them,” said Campbell.

The Mudbugs open the 2023-24 season at the NAHL Showcase with games against St. Cloud, Rochester, Bismarck, and Maryland. “All we can do is prepare and then it’s up to the players to grasp it all and focus. We need to just go play and no worry about who is in the stands and watching,” said Campbell.

Next Up: Springfield Jr. Blues

 
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