Mudbugs pull past 'Hounds
Youngstown missed a chance to move into second in the Northeast Division.
By JOHN KOVACH
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
YOUNGSTOWN -- It was too little too late for the Youngstown SteelHounds in their Central Hockey League game Friday against the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs, a late-scoring goal-fest in which four of the five scores were tallied in the final period.
As a result of Youngstown's 3-2 loss in the down-to-the-wire struggle before an announced attendance of 3,564, the SteelHounds missed a golden opportunity to move into a tie for second place with the Mudbugs in the Northeast Division.
Youngstown battled back from a 3-1 deficit to pull within 3-2 on Chris Shaffer's eighth goal of the season at 15:58 on assists from Mark Odut and Stephan Margeson.
But the SteelHounds were unable to penetrate Mudbugs' goalie John Decaro in the waning minutes, including a late, relentless attack with about 45 seconds left. That flurry came after calling timeout and mapping the last-ditch strategy.
In fact, Decaro was the key to the Mudbugs victory as he stopped 32 of the SteelHounds' dominating 34 shots. The visitors produced only 20 attempts with Youngstown goalie Brad Roberts stopping 17 of them.
Wildfong's goal clincher
Dan Wildfong's goal at 11:56 of the final period on assists from Forbes MacPherson and Milan Vodrazka gave the Mudbugs a 3-1 lead and provided the margin of victory.
And before that, Daniel Pegoraro's tally at 6:44 of the final period on assists from Joe Ori and Quade Lightbody snapped a 1-1 tie to touch off the Mudbugs' final two-goal surge.
Bossier-Shreveport (19-10-5) has 41 points in second place for a four-point lead over the third place SteelHounds (16-12-7) with 39 points.
The two teams will return to the Chevrolet Centre tonight for a rematch at 7:05, with the Mudbugs holding a 2-1 lead in their season series.
Both coaches -- Kevin Kaminski of the SteelHounds and Scott Muscutt of the Mudbugs -- agreed that Decaro's outstanding performance in goal for the visitors was the pivotal factor in the outcome.
"They have the best goaltender in the league," Kaminski said. "That gives them a chance to win every night. [Decaro] plays a strong game. He makes himself big [in the net]" by his angular movements facing the shooters.
Specifically, Kaminski said Decaro has good "side-to-side [movement]. He lets everything hit him and he stops the second-chance rebounds and he makes second and third saves" on shots coming at him.
Muscutt lauds Decaro
Muscutt was flattered by Kaminski's kind words for DeCaro, and admitted that his goalie indeed "was the key to the game" because of all his saves, including the fact that he held the SteelHounds scoreless through the first two periods.
Youngstown's first score didn't come until Garrett Larson connected at 2:39 of the third period on a power play goal with assists from Brad Patterson and Jeff Alcombrack that tied the score at 1-1.
The Mudbugs had taken a 1-0 lead early in the game on Ori's goal with an assist from Pegararo, while the second period was scoreless.
Decaro was 11-for-11 in saves in the first period and 15-for-15 in the second.
"[Decaro] has played well. He had a disappointing performance against Colorado but he bounced back," Muscutt said. "He is a young kid who has composure. He is determined to get better and has high standards."
Kaminski said the SteelHounds had one shot more than their average, but were thwarted overall by Decaro, especially down the stretch.
"Our third period has to get better. We have to find a way to win close games," Kaminski said.
But the coach was pleased that his team didn't give up
"Our guys deserve credit. They were down 3-1. We never quit," he said.