The Cinderella season did not end with a “happily ever after” for the Idaho Falls Spud Kings, who were eliminated from the Dineen Cup Playoffs by the Ogden Mustangs on Wednesday night.

Brody Simko, who totalled six goals in the four-game series, scored the overtime winner for the Mustangs. He celebrated with Patrick Kane’s signature “heartbreaker” move — fitting for the occasion.

Landon Steffen had a pair of third-period goals, giving the Spud Kings a 3-1 lead with less than eight minutes left. Just when it looked like the series would go another game, Grant Hineman and Max Von Klinggraeff each scored to force an extra frame.

When the Spud Kings went up 3-1 with less than eight minutes left in the third period, it looked like they could win.

When the Spud Kings went up 3-1 with less than eight minutes left in the third period, it looked like they could win. Photo credit: Will Vasseur

“Three should have been enough,” said Spud Kings head coach John Becanic after the game. “They’re the best team for a reason.”

The Mustangs will go on to play the winner of the other playoff series in the NCDC Mountain Division. The Mountain Division champions will then go on to play the winners of the Eastern Conference for the Dineen Cup.

A number of fans showed up with signs for Wednesday’s game, many of them mocking Mustangs goaltender Nikita Volski for “flopping.”

A number of fans showed up with signs for Wednesday’s game, many of them mocking Mustangs goaltender Nikita Volski for “flopping” in the previous game. Photo credit: Will Vasseur

Blood, sweat and tears

There’s something poetic about hockey. There’s plenty of blood and sweat in every game, and in big games like this, there are often tears too.

Blood: Owen Pitters suffered a number of facial injuries during the series, so much so that, according to his coach, he’ll need dental surgery. Lucas Karlsson, who took a puck to the face late in the regular season, had his stitches reopened during the game. Liam Filip could be seen walking around after the game with a lump on his jaw the size of a hockey puck. Pitters, Filip and DJ MacLeish all left the game with injuries at various points, but each would return shortly thereafter to help his team.

Sweat: The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “sweat” as a product of self-exertion. The Spud Kings exerted themselves, and, as always, the sweat accompanying the locker room could be smelled from all the way down the hall.

“I don’t think we could’ve given any more than we have,” Becanic said.

Tears: Hockey players are tough, but they’re equally as competitive. When things suddenly come crashing down, it can be hard to keep those emotions in, even for the biggest, toughest players. There was hardly a dry eye in the locker room after the game.

All three elements of a competitive athlete were on display when a Spud King, who will remain anonymous, had an excessive amount of blood pouring from his face after the game. As he was waiting for the medical staff to tend to him, he was hunched over, the blood forming a puddle on the floor. The sweat dripped off his hair and the tears rolled down his face, creating a puddle of blood, sweat and tears. This is someone who knows what it takes to be a champion.

What’s next?

Plans for next season are not set in stone. While a number of tender offers have been extended, the roster is far from complete. Becanic says he will be back with the organization in some capacity, but he’s not yet sure what his role will be.

Spud Kings ownership and a number of the staff members will turn their attention to the Idaho Falls Chukars baseball team. The Chukars will play their first exhibition game on May 17 in Boise, followed by their first home game on May 21.

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