In the second game of a back-to-back against the Pueblo Bulls, the Idaho Falls Spud Kings came out victorious Saturday night.

As of Saturday evening, the final score of the game is 3-2. The Spud Kings, however, plan to submit an official request to the league to rescind the Bulls’ second goal, which they believe came well after the final buzzer.

“I think it was two seconds off the clock,” said Spud Kings head coach John Becanic after the game. “I think it expired, and we’ll send it in to the league to make sure that’s correct.”

While the result of the Spud Kings’ challenge won’t impact the result of the game or the standings, it does affect Bulls forward Hunter Hayes, who has goals in his last six games against the Spud Kings if this one stands.

Regardless of the final score, the Spud Kings earned two points in the standings, which catapults them back into fourth place in the NCDC Mountain Division and, more importantly, a playoff spot. The Bulls sit in fifth place, one point behind the Spud Kings with two more games played.

The Bulls beat the Spud Kings 3-2 Friday night in the first game of the back-to-back series.

The game

While Becanic was adamant about sticking to the game plan despite Friday’s loss, he did make a number of changes to the lineup. Matvei Naumov, Brayden Lewis, Cannon Lentz and Vladimir Pechenin subbed in for Dario Sacino, Justin Taylor, Prestyn Carter and Sacha Trudel, who sustained an upper-body injury from a hit Friday night.

The Spud Kings came out slow, spending the first 10 minutes of the first period primarily in their own zone. Tucker Inabinet kept them in the game until the first TV timeout, at which point something changed.

Tucker Inabinet kept the Idaho Falls Spud Kings in the game, especially in the first period.

Tucker Inabinet kept the Idaho Falls Spud Kings in the game, especially in the first period. Photo credit: Brogan Houston

Less than two minutes after the break, Naumov hammered home a rebound to put the Spud Kings up 1-0. His team seemed to gain confidence as they protected the lead for the rest of the period.

Spud Kings forward Ty Walker received some backlash on social media for a turnover that caused the Bulls’ game-winning goal on Friday night, but he silenced the haters by scoring what could end up being the game-winner on Saturday night.

“I love the fans,” Walker said after the game. “Thank you for chirping me.”

The Bulls pulled within one goal four minutes into the third on a wrist shot by Bryce Laager. As happy as Laager was, however, he wouldn’t remain in the game much longer.

Thirty-nine seconds after scoring, Laager received a five-minute major and a game misconduct for a knee-on-knee hit on Lentz. Lentz received extensive attention from the medical staff as he lay on the ice after the hit, eventually hobbling to the bench and, ultimately, off the ice with the help of two teammates. He paused, however, to raise his arms to the crowd, signaling them to keep cheering.

“There’s no place in hockey for it,” Becanic said of the hit. “Things would have been handled differently 10 years ago, let’s just say that.”

While the extent of Lentz’ injury is yet to be determined, he was walking around after the game with an ice pack wrapped around his knee.

Andrew Schmidt, the newest member of the Spud Kings, scored his first NCDC goal on the ensuing powerplay. The team brought Schmidt in primarily for his size, but he’s started playing in key offensive situations too.

“I like to finish my hits and also play a little bit offensively if I can,” Schmidt said after the game.

Easton Edwards received a five-minute major and a game misconduct for spearing with 37 seconds left in the game. A player on the Bulls’ bench had squirted him with water, so Edwards retaliated by poking him with the blade of his stick.

Idaho Falls Spud Kings forward Easton Edwards could face supplemental discipline for his antics at the end of Saturday’s game.

Idaho Falls Spud Kings forward Easton Edwards could face supplemental discipline for his antics at the end of Saturday’s game. Photo credit: Brogan Houston

Becanic mentioned that, similar to Laager’s kneeing penalty, there’s “no place in hockey” for things like that, adding his concern that Edwards might get suspended for his antics.

What’s next?

Eight regular season games remain for the Spud Kings, who are two games into a six-game home stand. They take on the last-place Rock Springs Grizzlies on Thursday, followed by back-to-back contests against the third-place Provo Predators on Friday and Saturday.

Tickets, if available, can be purchased on the Spud Kings’ website. The game will also be streamed on FloHockey.TV, available with a subscription.