The Idaho Falls Spud Kings defeated the Rock Springs Grizzlies 6-4 in their home opener at the Mountain America Center on Saturday night.
“I think it was more of just a big character win,” Spud Kings head coach Marty Quarters said. “… I don’t think we played our best and I don’t think they think they played their best. But we found a way to win.”
Idaho Falls came into Saturday’s game with a 2-2 record, following their 7-3 victory over Rock Springs on Friday night. Rock Springs entered with a 0-4 record.
Prestyn Carter started in the net for the Spud Kings for a second consecutive game, looking to build off of his previous start when he stopped 15/18 shots.
Merik Erickson started in the goal again for the Grizzlies, looking to rebound off his prior start, when he stopped 15/18 shots.
Idaho Falls opened the scoring at 10:01 of the first period when Jack O’Rourke drove to the net and had his shot stopped by Erickson, but George Goodwin jumped on the rebound to put them ahead 1-0.
After one period, Idaho Falls led 1-0.
Rock Springs tied the game on a 5-3 powerplay when Peyton Smith beat Carter to tie the game at 1-1 at 14:15 of the second period. John Kremer collected an assist on the goal.
The Spud Kings regained the lead at 16:49 when Ryley Callan, who was making his Spud Kings debut, tipped home a shot from Jackson Howell to put them ahead 2-1.
After two periods, Idaho Falls led 2-1.
The Spud Kings extended their lead at 5:04 of the third period, when Cai Robinson scored his first goal of the season, with an assist going to Nikita Soloviev, making it 3-1.
The Grizzlies got within a goal at 7:28, when Adam Wizmüller snapped a shot to make it 3-2.
Rock Springs tied the game when an odd-man rush led to Ethan Overman scoring and making it 3-3.
Kremer gave the Grizzlies a lead at 14:09 when he found a loose puck and put them ahead 4-3.
DJ MacLeish tied the game for Idaho Falls at 15:07 when he drove to the net and stickhandled around the goalie to make it 4-4. Matteo Mitrovic collected an assist on the equalizing goal.
“Honestly after being such a long night last night and the bus ride to it, (the crowd) really gave the energy to us and these fans are amazing,” MacLeish said. “They’re the best in the league.”
The Spud Kings regained the lead at 16:10 when Callan drove to a net and had a rebound find Milan Tadeas Jobek open in the slot to give them a 5-4 lead. Callan and MaCleish collected assists on the go-ahead goal.
“I just tried to use my speed to get a scoring opportunity and put it on net at least, and yeah, (Jobek) just did a really good job of picking it up and getting the winner,” Callan said.
Idaho Falls scored an empty net goal at 19:06 when O’Rourke found the net to make it 6-4. MacLeish collected an assist in the empty net goal.
In the end, Idaho Falls defeated Rock Springs 6-4.
Carter collected the win for the Spud Kings, stopping 41/45 shots. Erickson was given the loss for the Grizzlies, stopping 50/55 shots.
With the win, the Spud Kings moved their record to 3-2 on the year.
Idaho Falls will return to action on Oct. 13 when they travel to Utah to face the Outliers.
The Spud Kings will return to the Mountain America Center on Oct. 14 when they welcome the Ogden Mustangs for a 7:05 p.m. puck-drop. Fans can purchase tickets to the game or view the game live on FlowSports.