Monday, February 18th, 2008
SAUTER LEADS OKC TOWARDS PLAYOFF RUN AND 500TH WIN
The Oklahoma City Blazers won back-to-back road games in Youngstown this past weekend putting themselves in position for a final run at the post-season with 14 regular season games remaining. Oklahoma City currently trails the fifth and final seeded Texas Brahmas by seven points and have the Mississippi RiverKings in between with a six point difference separating them.
Blazers’ Head Coach Doug Sauter has reached a couple of milestone this season further decorating his outstanding career and now he sits just one win shy of another coaching milestone. The next Blazers’ win will be the 500th for Sauter with OKC making him the first CHL coach to reach that number. Earlier this season, Sauter won his 1200th game as a coach and with two more wins Sauter will reach 700 professional wins.
The strong recent play for the Blazers has been keyed by the goaltending of Sean Connors (4-0-1 in his last five decisions) who is the reigning Oakley CHL Goaltender of the Week. Forwards Ryan Watson (two goals on Sunday) and Garrett Prosofsky (two goals on Saturday) have also picked up the play lately leading the offensive charge for OKC.
The Blazers are in the midst of a seven-game road trip (2-1-0 thus far) that could define their season. This week OKC plays at Rocky Mountain on Friday and then make the 700 mile trek to Tulsa to play the Oilers on Saturday.
BRAHMAS PEAKING AT RIGHT TIME
The Texas Brahmas are the hottest team in the CHL winning seven straight games jumping past the Mississippi RiverKings for the fifth and final Northern Conference playoff spot. Texas isn’t done there as the Youngstown SteelHounds are just three points ahead and the Colorado Eagles are four points in front giving the Brahmas more rungs on the ladder to climb. Over their seven-game win streak, Texas has outscored the opposition 30-11 with David Cacciola going 2-0 and Brett Jaeger going 5-0. Anders Strome (the reigning Oakley CHL Player of the Week) has goals in six of the seven wins and has 11 total points (7-4=11) in his last seven games. Texas plays at Mississippi on Thursday and then are home to Bossier-Shreveport and Wichita on Friday/Saturday. Seven of Texas’ next nine games are at home where they are 16-7-0 including winning six straight. The Brahmas seven-game win streak is just one shy of the franchise record set during the 1997-98 season.
SUNDOGS ANSWER CHALLENGE; TAKE BACK FIRST PLACE
The Arizona Sundogs were presented with a big challenge this past weekend with a pair of games versus the Northwest Division leading Rocky Mountain Rage. Entering the two contests, the Sundogs were in a three-way tie with the Scorpions and the Jackalopes for the lead in the Southwest Division but after two exciting victories over the Rage, Arizona has now regained first place by four points. Arizona has been near unbeatable at home this season going 16-6-1 with 11 of their remaining 16 games slated for the Tim’s Toyota Center. This week, the Sundogs play three straight games versus New Mexico in what is a critical Southwest Division series.
BES GETS BUCKS BACK ON TRACK
The Laredo Bucks won their first 10 games of the season and since have been overlooked by many teams. They are just four points from eliminating all the Southeast Division competition taking the division crown for the fifth straight season. Jeff Bes currently leads the CHL with 83 points and is second with 37 goals. He has been on fire lately scoring 11 goals and 19 points in his last 10 games. Laredo has won three straight games and with a 29 point divisional lead need just a combination of four points to clinch the division (Laredo wins or Corpus Christi loses). This week, the Bucks host Odessa on Thursday and then play at Corpus Christi and at Rio Grande Valley on Friday/Saturday.
MUDBUGS CARROLL AND DECARO DECORATING RECORD BOOKS
The dynamic goaltending duo of the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs have been making things look pretty easy since early November leading the Bugs to a 36-4-3 record since November 2nd. The duo ranks #1, #2 in the CHL in goals against average with DeCaro pacing the league with a 1.63 GAA and Carroll following closely behind with a 1.74 GAA. The duo is also first and second in save percentage with DeCaro boasting a .943 and Carroll a .939. DeCaro set the league’s individual goaltending record for shutouts on Saturday night with the Bugs 3-0 win over Austin. On Friday, Carroll collected his fourth SO of the season expanding his CHL career record total to 25. The team has combined for 14 shutouts also setting a new CHL record. The Mudbugs are cruising to their second consecutive Governors’ Cup (CHL regular season champs) leading Laredo by seven points.
AROUND THE CHL
Texas’ Blair Manning scored a goal on Friday versus New Mexico reaching the 500-point plateau…Travis Banga (RGV) has nine points (2 SHG’s) in his last seven games…The Killer Bees are 0 for their last 38 on the power play (scoreless in nine straight games)…Daymen Rycroft scored three goals in the two games in Arizona over the weekend becoming the first CHL player to reach the 40-goal mark (he now has 41)…Colorado will be playing in its 300th regular season game on February 19th vs. Tulsa (the Eagles are 204-71-24 as a franchise)…Wichita’s current three-game win streak ties the longest of the season for the Thunder…Jason Duda recorded his 800th career point on Friday night becoming just the fourth CHL player to reach that milestone (Joe Burton, Doug Lawrence and Travis Clayton)…Sean Connors (OKC) became just the 5th CHL goaltender to play more than 10,000 minutes with the same team on Saturday versus Youngstown (active include Bossier-Shreveport’s Ken Carroll and Odessa’s Mike Gorman)…The Oilers 10 goals on Friday in Mississippi was the most since 1997.