A win in the NCDC is worth two points — but with two games this weekend, there are eight points on the line for the Idaho Falls Spud Kings.

The Spud Kings host the Pueblo Bulls for back-to-back games Friday and Saturday at Mountain America Center in Idaho Falls.

In the NCDC Mountain Division standings, the Spud Kings sit one point ahead of the Bulls. With 10 regular season games left for the Spud Kings and eight for the Bulls, it’s possible that these two games decide which team makes the playoffs.

What to expect from the Bulls

The Bulls have already won the season series between the two teams, winning six of nine games so far.

Hunter Hayes has been a force for the Bulls, scoring 10 goals and 13 points in the seven games he’s played against the Spud Kings. Hayes leads the team in scoring with 29 goals.

Goaltender Beau Altman has started each of the last five games for the Bulls, recording two wins and a .891 save percentage over that stretch. The Spud Kings’ game plan might include peppering Altman with shots from all areas in hopes that 11 percent of them go in.

What to expect from the Spud Kings

Upon the conclusion of a six-game winning streak, the Spud Kings have now lost two in a row — albeit the games were against the two best teams in the league in a tough travel situation. This weekend will be big for the Spud Kings’ identity as they’re eager to prove that their winning streak was not a one-off event.

In last weekend’s game against the Utah Outliers, Vladimir Pechenin got his first start in the net since the arrival of new head coach John Becanic. He stopped 38 of 42 shots in a losing effort. While it’s likely that Tucker Inabinet will start at least one of this weekend’s games, Pechenin may have shown enough promise to take the backup role from Prestyn Carter.

Scoring six goals in three games last weekend, the Spud Kings will want more offensive production against the Bulls. Defenseman Tiziano Pauchard scored in the final seconds of back-to-back games over the weekend, so his ice time in key offensive situations might spike.

A hockey player wearing a white jersey with number 21 on the back prepares for the next play.

Tiziano Pauchard scored two goals for the Idaho Falls Spud Kings this weekend. Photo credit: Will Vasseur

Twins brothers Luke and Landon Steffen each recorded multiple points over the weekend, including back-to-back powerplay goals against the Outliers. The Steffens might see more powerplay time against the Bulls.

How to watch

On both Friday and Saturday, the games start at 7:05 p.m. Tickets are available on the Spud Kings’ website and at the Bingham Healthcare Box Office at Mountain America Center.

The games will also be streamed on FloHockey.TV, available with a subscription.