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Back in the 90s and 2000s, the Shreveport Mudbugs were a staple in Shreveport-Bossier - often selling out the (then) CenturyTel Center. The players were popular, the team won was just AWESOME to see. Unfortunately, the team hit some hard times in 2011 and folded. A few years went by...and then, in 2016, the Bugs were reborn as a 'junior league' team in the NAHL.

Unless you're a super hockey nut, the majority of people didn't know what that meant. Actually, I distinctly remember a lot of former Mudbug fans saying "who wants to watch of bunch of kids play contactless hockey?" Well, for those that gave the 'Baby Bugs' a chance, not only have we gotten to witness some Championship winning performances, but some entertaining games.

However, when the kids move on to college or whatever, most of them don't stop playing hockey. In fact, most either move up to the next level of junior hockey or go to college. Or, in the case of the inaugural starting goaltender for the Mudbugs, they sign their first professional deal.

It was announced back in March that Dyllan Lubbesmeyer signed a pro deal with the Wheeling Nailers of the East Coast Hockey League, an affiliate "farm system" team of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Dyllan didn't see any action in his inaugural pro season (at least not yet...there are still two more games left in the season), but the fact he has made it to the pro level is pretty impressive. These teams just don't waste money and resources on players they don't see potential in, so the fact he made it into a system and has the potential to hit that next level is awesome to see.

During his Mudbugs career, Lubbesmeyer boasted an impressive .923 save percentage and posted a stingy 2.29 goals against average. In college, playing for Robert Morris University, he appeared in 22 games over his four-year career, compiling a lifetime 5-4-1 record to go along with a 2.57 GAA and a .915 SV%, including a 5-2 mark during his senior campaign. On top of the on ice achievements, he was nominated for the 2021 Hockey Humanitarian Award for his success in the classroom and for doing great things in community.

National Hockey League teams are ALWAYS on the hunt for quality goaltending. And, given the uncertainty right now in goal for the Penguins, we may see Lubbesmeyer on the big stage some time in the not so distant future.

And it's stories like this that make the NAHL version of the Mudbugs so much fun. You get to see kids develop on their journey to greatness. Some junior hockey players, like Lubbesmeyer or Conner Hellebuyck from Odessa (currently starting goalie for the Winnipeg Jets), will turn pro and continue in the game of hockey. Others will just mature in the awesome adults that will make their communities better. No matter what path they end up on, it's pretty amazing to watch.

If you haven't been to a Mudbugs game since they've been back, go this weekend! It's the last set of home games in the 2021 season. It's the playoffs. Trust me, you won't be disappointed. Plus, you of those kids may be making Sportscenter highlights in a few years.

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