The Shreveport Mudbugs (8-9-4) got a lot of firsts and a Gordie Howe Hat Trick to lead the way to a 4-1 victory over the El Paso Rhinos at the El Paso County Events Center Friday night.
The Bugs got on the board early at 15:49 of the opening period when Nick LeVasseur found a deflected puck in front and rammed home his first goal of the campaign to give Shreveport a 1-0 edge. LeVasseur’s linemates Jake Mack and Sutton Murray set up the play and earned the helpers on the game’s first tally. The Mudbugs dominated the opening period in SOG, 10-3.
El Paso scored at 13:24 of the 2nd period on a shot through traffic from Alan Evtimov to even the score, 1-1. Shreveport responded as Mack never gave up on the puck and slammed home his own rebound in front for his fifth goal of the season and first since Oct. 1st to lift the Bugs to a 2-1 lead at 17:44. LeVasseur earned the only assist on the goal. The two-time Robertson Cup Champs led in SOG, 22-8 after two.
The Bugs added to their lead at 5:01 of the third period on the PP when Logan Gotinksy powered home his team-leading sixth goal of the season on a broken play to make it a 3-1 contest. Ryan Burke earned the assist. The Bugs would then put the icing on the cake at 11:54 when Brent Litchard got an awkward in front of the net and he slapped it past their goalie for his first goal of the year to close out a convincing 4-1 victory over El Paso. The fun didn’t stop as LeVasseur and Matthew Danziger got into fights 25 seconds apart following Litchard’s tally. They were both good battles and for LeVasseur it completed the ‘Gordie Howe Hat Trick” of scoring a goal, an assist, and getting into a fight in the same game.
Simon Bucheler had to make just 13 stops to earn his sixth win in net. Bugs out-shot the Rhinos 36-14.
The Bugs and Rhinos will conclude their two-game series tomorrow night. Puck drop is scheduled for 8 p.m. CT from the County Events Center.