Coach Marty Quarters knew there would be some growing pains for the inaugural Spud Kings team.
How could there not be?
Idaho Falls’ new junior hockey club played exclusively road games from Sept. 16 to Dec. 2 with an ever-changing roster filled with newcomers and players just looking for a chance to prove themselves.
The new Mountain America Center was still under construction so the road-weighted schedule had to be endured, but the losses started to pile up and the eventual home opener seemed a long ways off.
Even so, there was optimism, Quarters noted. Once they compiled a competitive lineup and were settled in with the opening of the new arena the Spud Kings had an opportunity to be something special.
“It’s positive vibes now,” Quarters said of the team’s strong second half of the season. Not only did the Spud Kings finish strong, winning 14 games once the calendar turned to 2023, they won a first-round playoff series over Northern Colorado.
They also found an audience at the new arena, selling out nearly every home game once the team finally took to the home ice.
“It’s about having a team the fans can be passionate about,” Quarters said this week after conducting exit interviews and starting to prepare for the second season when the team moves up a tier.
There will be a draft in the spring, followed by camps around the country as the team builds its roster for next season.
“We really want to build hockey in the area,” said Quarters, who said he signed a new contract to come back next year and continue with the club.
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