Arizona Sundogs goalkeeper David Brown gets defensive help from Sebastien Geoffrion and No. 13 Karl Linden Friday at Tim’s Toyota Center, as Brahma Phil Fox tries to get inside. Brown shut out the Ft. Worth Brahmas on two consecutive nights to help the ‘Dogs to three straight wins over the Brahmas and earn the No. 7 CHL playoff spot. He also earned the Oakley CHL Goaltender of the Week award for his efforts.
Trib Photo/Cheryl Hartz
In an animated TV show from the 1960s, Deputy Dawg always responded, "I'll save yew, Muskie," as the much put-upon canine law officer rushed to the mischievous muskrat's rescue after a usually fake plea of, "Deputy Dawg, Deputy Dawg, hep me, hep me, I'm sinkin' in the crick mud!" Things always turned out all right.
In the case of Arizona Sundogs hockey, the 'Dogs and new head coach Scott Muscutt have mutually rescued each other and it's more than all right. Since "Muskie" took over Feb. 8 after David Lohrei's resignation, the team was able to close regular season play 5-3 and secure the No. 7 spot in the Central Hockey League playoffs.
Muscutt never got stuck in the Louisiana mud while he coached the CHL's now defunct Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs, leading the team to the playoffs 10 out of 11 years and winning two championships. But team ownership announced it was ceasing operations right after winning the 2010-11 Ray Miron's Cup, cutting Muskie loose.
"It was so important for me to try to get Muskie here," Sundogs forward Jeff Kyrzakos, who was tournament MVP that year under Muskutt, said. "I knew what he brought with him, but I didn't think there was any chance we'd get him."
Kyrzakos said the Sundogs have adjusted to Muscutt's systematic changes, and now are a confident group.
It shows. The Sundogs closed regular season with a 3-game sweep of the league's No. 3 Ft. Worth Brahmas. David Brown protected the net in all three wins, ending with back-to-back shutouts and earning the Oakley CHL Goaltender of the Week award. He also established a franchise first for consecutive shutouts.
This past Wednesday, the Sundogs opened with a trio of goals on their way to a 6-2 victory. Jason Morgan delivered the first just over a minute into the game, assisted by Kyrzakos and Kevin Baker. Morgan's second goal of the night, a shorthanded tally, came before Cody Purves recorded the third score.
Halfway through the second period, Kirill Tulupov added the Sundogs' fourth goal, aided by Derek LeBlanc and Chad Nehring, and five minutes later, scored the fifth.
Ron Meyers assisted Johan Ryd with the sixth goal, late in the third frame.
Friday, neither team found the net through the first two periods. Zack Firlotte, assisted by Baker and Kyzakos, finally opened the floodgates for Arizona less than four minutes into the third period. Tulupov and Kyrzakos made it 3-0 in rapid succession.
"It was a great game," Brown said, wearing a "crown" hat after the team elected him Player of the Game. "The team battled hard and blocked a lot of shots in front of me."
Brown also earned the First Star award on the night.
Saturday, in front of a nearly full house, the Sundogs completed the sweep, triumphing 2-0. Mario Larocque scored five minutes into the second period. Ryd and Geoffrion earned assist credit. When the desperate Brahmas pulled their goaltender in favor of an extra attacker late in the third period, Kyrzakos sent the puck into the open net from near mid-ice.
The 'Dogs are set to start the playoff's first 7-game series with the No. 2 Wichita Thunder in Kansas tomorrow and Saturday. They return home for games at 6:05 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday, April 2 and 3.