Monday, January 7th, 2008
BIG SHOWDOWNS HIGHLIGHT FINAL WEEK BEFORE ALL-STAR BREAK
The CHL’s “first-half” will conclude on Sunday when the Oklahoma City Blazers host the Wichita Thunder in the final game prior to the All-Star break but between now and then there are a handful of classic contests that will define several team’s first half’s of the season.
We don’t have to wait long for the first key match-up as Youngstown (20-8-2) and Bossier-Shreveport (20-7-3) will clash on Tuesday night with not only first place in the Northeast Division on the line but the Mudbugs 10-game winning streak overall and their 14-game home winning streak. The ’Bugs 10-game winning streak ties the Laredo Bucks for the longest streak this season and coincidentally, it was the Hounds who ended the Bucks streak on November 10th with a 3-2 victory in Laredo.
The white-hot Colorado Eagles (18-9-4) host a pair of division leaders this week when they see the Southwest Division leading Odessa Jackalopes (18-7-7) on Friday night and the Northwest Division leading Rocky Mountain Rage (22-4-3) on Saturday night. It will be the first meeting of the season between the Eagles and Jacks and the fifth meeting between the in-state rivals. So far this season, the Rage have held the upper-hand earning points in all four of the previous match-ups (3-0-1) and holding a seven point lead over Colorado in the division.
The focus of the other two big showdowns this week is Laredo, Texas as the Bucks (25-8-2) host the Arizona Sundogs (19-9-3) on Friday and the Mudbugs on Saturday. The Sundogs and Bucks have played three times this season with the visiting team winning each time. The only game in Laredo resulted in a 3-0 Arizona victory. The Mudbugs and Bucks have not met yet this season.
The Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs have relied heavily on defense this season allowing the fewest goals in the league (59) but they needed to score a little to win 10 straight games (tying a CHL season-high) and 14 straight home games. A bulk of the scoring during their streak has come from first-year Mudbug Kevin Cooper (11-10=21) who has scored eight of the Mudbugs 35 goals over that stretch (23%). Cooper also boasts having the second-highest plus/minus rating on the team (+15).
SCORPIONS STING THE TOP OF THE DIVISION
The New Mexico Scorpions (15-12-4) entered last week with a big challenge ahead of them, two games versus the Arizona Sundogs and one game versus the Odessa Jackalopes. The Sundogs and the Jackalopes have sat atop the Southwest Division for most of the season with the Scorpions having trouble putting together an extended winning streak to make-up some ground but last week the six points earned have pulled New Mexico within 10 points of both front-runners. All-Star Andrew Martin played in between the pipes in all three games and was outstanding stopping 93 of 100 shots faced. The Scorpions hit the road this week looking to extend their three-game winning streak with games in Corpus Christi, Austin and Rio Grande Valley.
BES VAULTS HIS WAY TO TOP OF POINT AND GOAL LIST
Laredo’s Jeff Bes has been on fire in recent weeks holding an eight-game point streak (9-9=18) and thus laying claim to the points lead in the CHL with 55 points (23-32=55). He has also jumped to the top of the goals list with his 23 markers leading Odessa’s Dominic Leveille and Rocky Mountain’s Daymen Rycroft by three goals each. For his great play last week, Bes was named the Oakley/CHL Player of the Week for the week of Dec. 31-Jan. 6 (it is the second time this season he has earned the weekly honor).
2008 CHL ALL-STAR GAME LIVE ON THE CHL NETWORK
Be sure to catch all the action of the 2008 CHL All-Star Game LIVE on the CHL Network. The game will take place from the Broomfield Event Center in Broomfield, Colorado on Wednesday, January 16th with face-off scheduled for 7:05 PM (MST). Colorado’s Tori Holt and Arizona’s Robby Incmikoski will bring you all the action.
OTHER NEWS ITEMS YOU CAN TAKE TO THE GRAVE WITH YOU
The Colorado Eagles are just three sellouts away from setting the minor-pro hockey record for consecutive sellouts (currently have 142 consecutive full houses)…The Eagles are expected to break the record on Saturday versus Rocky Mountain…The Eagles checking line of Steve Haddon-Fraser Filipic-Les Borsheim have notched 16 points (7-9=16) in their last six games…Youngstown’s Chris Richards is one assist shy of becoming the ninth player in CHL history to record his 400th CHL assist…Tyler Redenbach (Arizona) had his 21-game point streak snapped on Friday in New Mexico…OKC is one win away from becoming the first CHL team to win 600 regular season games, they will go for the historic milestone on Tuesday at Tulsa…Austin goaltender Doug Groenestege has won back-to-back games and is 2-3-0 on the season with a 1.78 GAA and a .942 save percentage…Texas is 11-3-1 in one-goal games…Reigning CHL MVP Jeff Christian (Tulsa) currently has the league’s longest active point streak at 13-games…The Oiler’s Brendan Hodge (missed the last 22 games with injury) is expected to return to the line-up on Tuesday vs. OKC.