Make it seven straight wins for the Idaho Falls Spud Kings. The Spud Kings beat the Provo Predators 2-1 Thursday night, pulling them within five points of third place in the NCDC Mountain Division.

After a 2-1 win over the Predators on Feb. 2, Spud Kings head coach John Becanic declared his intention for his team to play close games.

“We want to learn how to win 2-1 hockey games or, you know, one-goal games that are low-scoring,” Becanic said.

With their second straight 2-1 win and their third win by that score in the last five games, Becanic’s team is doing exactly what he intended: playing close hockey.

The game

The game was as close as the scoreboard shows. Jackson Lucia opened the scoring for the Predators on a rebound tap-in seven minutes into the game. The score remained 1-0 until the third period.

The Spud Kings finally cracked goaltender Ryan Henry with what may have been a set play three minutes into the third period. On an offensive zone face-off to the right of the goaltender, Jackson Beach drew the puck back to Landon Steffen, who had lined up directly behind Beach, just outside the circle. Steffen fired it immediately with just enough power to trickle through Henry’s five-hole.

After the equalizing goal, both teams played noticeably tighter hockey. Passes were more crisp, odd-man rushes were more seldom and good hits were more frequent. It wasn’t until a pair of coincidental penalties that the Spud Kings found an opening.

With just over five minutes to go, Tiziano Pauchard and Owen Ames got tangled up in front of the Spud Kings’ net, resulting in penalties to both players and two minutes of four-on-four play. With the extra space, defenseman Franco Canevari found himself deep in the offensive zone.

Tiziano Pauchard’s penalty, which coincided with that of Owen Ames, ended up creating room for his teammate to score the game-winning goal.

Tiziano Pauchard’s penalty, which coincided with that of Owen Ames, ended up creating room for his teammate to score the game-winning goal. Photo credit: Will Vasseur

From the right-wing corner, Canevari fired a pass through the slot to William Donovan. Donovan wasted no time putting it on net, after which he wasted no time celebrating the go-ahead goal.

A last-minute push by the Predators availed them nothing, extending the Spud Kings’ winning streak to seven games. Three of those wins have come against the Predators.

What’s next?

The Spud Kings return to Idaho Falls on Friday for a date with the first-place Ogden Mustangs. The teams last met on Feb. 10 — a game that the Spud Kings won 2-1.

For a full preview of Friday’s game, see the Scroll website.

The game begins at 7:05. Tickets are available on the Spud Kings’ website and at the Mountain America Center box office. It will also be streamed on FloHockey.TV, available with a subscription.