After clinching the playoffs in their final game of the regular season, the Idaho Falls Spud Kings now turn their attention to the post-season. Their first obstacle is the Ogden Mustangs.

In 10 games against the Mustangs this season, the Spud Kings have a record of 2-7-1. While that record doesn’t look promising, five of the Spuds’ losses were by one goal or less.

What makes the Mustangs so good?

The Mustangs finished the regular season with a record of 37-12-4, earning the second-most points of any NCDC team across the United States. What’s their secret?

High-powered offense, competent defense and elite goaltending have landed the Mustangs where they are. Parker Osborn and Dimitri Voyatzis both recorded more than a point per game, with totals of 66 and 54, respectively.

Vladislav Bryzgalov held down the fort in net for most of the season, posting a 2.15 goals against average and a .933 save percentage. When he left for the BCHL’s Alberni Valley Bulldogs mid-season, Nikita Volski transitioned seamlessly into the starting goaltender, posting almost identical numbers to those of Bryzgalov.

Another factor in the Mustangs’ success has been experience. The Mustangs have four 18-year-olds and zero 17-year-olds, compared to the Spud Kings’ nine 18-year-olds and three 17-year-olds.

A graph showing the ages of the Spud Kings and the Mustangs.

The Mustangs are significantly older than the Spud Kings. Photo credit: Brogan Houston

Spud Kings’ game plan

Ever since the arrival of head coach John Becanic in late January, the Spud Kings’ game plan has consisted of tight defense, getting sticks and bodies in shooting lanes, and staying disciplined. Becanic hasn’t waivered from his game plan all season, and there’s no reason to believe it will change now.

According to Spud Kings defenseman DJ MacLeish, practice this week has consisted of physical play and coverage of every zone.

Playoff schedule

The Spud Kings’ first two playoff games will be in Ogden on Friday and Saturday. They’ll return to Idaho Falls on April 1. If extra games are necessary, they will occur on April 3 in Idaho Falls and April 5 in Ogden.

All games will be streamed on FloHockey.TV, which is available with a subscription. Tickets for the games in Idaho Falls were exclusively available to season ticket holders until 5 p.m. on Tuesday. They’re now available to the public and can be purchased on the Spud Kings’ website.