In Thursday night Central Hockey League action, four tremendous rivals hooked up in contests that saw three of four visiting team post wins. The San Angelo Saints topped the Odessa Jackalopes 7-4 at the Ector County Coliseum, the Wichita Thunder edged the Oklahoma City Blazers 3-2 at the Ford Center, and the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs blanked the Memphis RiverKings 3-0 at the DeSoto Civic Center. The lone home team to emerge victorious was the Corpus Christi Rayz, who posted a 4-3 shootout win over the visiting Austin Ice Bats.
The Rayz win came in the first game behind the bench for interim Coach Pat Dunn, replacing Al Sims in the CHLs first coaching move of the season. Also new to the Rayz this season was former All-Star Cosmo Dupaul (pictured during the 2003 CHL All-Star Skills Competition), rehabilitated from a knee injury. Both came through Thursday night, as Dunn got his first win and Dupaul scored the game tying goal midway through the third period to cap a three goal comeback. Austin enjoyed a 3-0 lead late in the second period, but goals by Dan Shermerhorn, Ed McGrane (his fourth straight game with a goal) and Dupaul forced the overtime and shootout tied 3-3. The shootout went 13 rounds before a winner was decided, with Rayz defenseman Trent Brandvold from Smithers, British Columbia potting the game winning goal.
In Memphis, the RiverKings perfect mark on home ice is no more after the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs claimed a 3-0 shutout win. Rookie goaltender David Haun started in net for the Mudbugs, but was replaced just 3:05 into the first period by Ken Carroll after suffering an undisclosed injury. The pair combined to turn aside all 21 Memphis shots to lead Bossier-Shreveport to their sixth straight win, ending the Memphis overall winning streak at four and home winning streak at seven. Jason Basile, Chad Spurr and Colin Kendall handled the scoring for the Mudbugs, who host the RiverKings Saturday evening.
Long time rivals Oklahoma City and Wichita met for the 138th time in the regular season Thursday, the most ever games between two CHL teams. The matchup was the first of the season between clubs both struggling recently, as Wichita had gone winless in their last four road games while allowing 23 total goals, and Oklahoma City had managed just a single goal in each of their last three home contests despite outshooting their opponents by a 133-81 margin. The Blazers struggles continued, losing 3-2 while outshooting the Thunder by seven. All five goals were scored in the first period, with Blazers Ryan Campbell and Bryan Forslund finding the back of the net for Oklahoma City and Anders Strome, Tyler Deis and Darryl Green replying for Wichita, who hosts the Blazers Saturday night.
In Odessa, the San Angelo Saints improved to a perfect 4-0-0 against the Jackalopes this season, claiming a 7-4 win. San Angelo bolted to a 3-0 lead early in the second period, but Odessa scored the next three times to tie the score at 3 entering the final period. San Angelo posted four more goals in the final frame to seal the victory. Scott Hillman scored his 3rd and 4th goals of the year for the Jackalopes, while Steve Roberts (two goals, one assist) and newcomer Dan Reja (two goals, two assists) paced the Saints.
Friday evening 16 of the CHLs 17 teams return to the ice, with only Oklahoma City not playing. Austin visits Bossier-Shreveport, Laredo skates in Fort Worth, New Mexico stops in Lubbock, Tulsa travels to Memphis, Corpus Christi heads to Rio Grande Valley, Odessa goes to San Angelo and Indianapolis begins a two game set in Colorado.