BOSSIER CITY, La. – The Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs evened the CHL’s Presidents’ Cup Finals with a 5-4 overtime win in a back-and-forth Game 4 of the championship series. The close contest was nothing new between the teams who have faced-off 17 total times in the playoffs. Of those 17 games, six have gone into overtime (35%), and 12 have been decided by just a single goal (71%).
Colorado got off to a quick start, scoring 68 seconds into the game when Steve Haddon put back an Adam Hogg rebound. Hogg had sent a bad-angle shot on goal from the left goal line, and the rebound came out to Haddon below the right circle where he was able to beat John DeCaro who appeared to lose sight of the puck.
But the Mudbugs quickly grabbed the momentum midway through the opening frame. At 9:58, amateur Nathan Moon picked up his first professional point by snaring a turnover in Colorado’s zone and beating Andrew Penner with a shot from between the circles.
Then, just 13 seconds later, the ‘Bugs went up 2-1 when Shawn Limpright picked up another opportunistic tally from the doorstep. On the play, Penner dove out of his crease to the right, attempting to cover the puck, but it slid through his smother and right to the Bossier-Shreveport forward who was crashing the net.
Colorado continued to fight an uphill battle the rest of the first, killing off three consecutive Mudbugs power plays, including a partial 5-on-3. They also had a golden opportunity to tie the game up in the final minute of the period, but couldn’t convert on a 3-on-1 rush up the ice.
The second period saw a combined four goals — on a combined 11 shots — as Colorado scored three of the tallies in the first half of the period to chase DeCaro from the Mudbugs’ cage. Hogg tied the game at 2, 4:26 in, when he took the puck off the right wing boards down low and deked his way toward the crease before putting the puck past DeCaro.
The Eagles then took the lead at 6:34 with their playoff-leading fourth shorthanded marker. On the play, Jason Beatty picked off an entry pass into the Eagles’ zone and sent the puck ahead to Adam Chorneyko. As Chorneyko was being hauled down on his way to the net, he got off a shot/pass that Scott May was able to knock out of mid-air and into the net.
Then, at 9:43 of the second stanza, Chorneyko carried the puck behind the ‘Bugs’ net and sent it into the low slot where Kevin Ulanski found it for a tap-in that chased DeCaro. Ryan Munce replaced him in net after the starter stopped just 11 of 15 shots in just under 30 minutes of play. The Eagles wouldn’t find the back of the net thereafter.
At 15:18, Bossier-Shreveport was able to trim Colorado’s lead in half, with the teams skating 4-on-4, when Andy Contois carried the puck into the offensive zone along the left wing and found Simon Mangos crashing the net with a back-door feed.
Three minutes into the third period, Riley Nelson rung a shot off the post — one of three Eagles attempts to strike iron in the frame — on one of several odd-man rushes in the game. But at 7:47, Limpright picked up his second score of the night to tie the game at 4.
On the play, Michael Couch carried the puck down the right wing in transition before getting a shot off from high in the right circle. Penner kicked the rebound into the slot where Limpright picked it up and quickly sent it into the twine for the goal that would force another overtime between the teams.
The Eagles started the overtime period on the penalty kill, and Penner made two big stops early to keep Colorado alive. That penalty-killing unit was tested again a couple minutes later and successfully snuffed a sixth Mudbugs power play on the night, making it a perfect performance.
But moments after the power play expired, Jamie Milam held the puck in the offensive zone, sweeping it into the right corner where Nick Layton then sent it to Jeff Kyrzakos in the right circle for his playoff-leading 11th goal.
Game 5 of the best-of-seven series will be played Friday night at the CenturyTel Center. Game 6 will be played at the Budweiser Events Center on Wednesday, May 25. If necessary, Game 7 would also be played in Colorado on Friday, May 27.