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Ice-ly done: Veterans charity, INL employees score big on Spud Kings Night

March 1, 2024

By Paul Lambert

Maycee Radford had never been to an Idaho Falls Spud Kings hockey game.

In fact, young Maycee had never been to a hockey game of any kind. Ever.

So, when the 12-year-old Idaho Falls resident stood on the Mountain America Center blue line during INL’s Specialty Jersey Night on Feb. 9 with a black hockey stick in her hands, she may as well have been on the moon.

Maycee was selected to compete in the Chick-fil-A Shoot-to-win contest and drilled it — winning a chicken sandwich for everyone in Section 119.

First game. First time holding a stick. First time this season any fan has made the sandwich shot.

Idaho Falls resident Maycee Radford, 12, poses with Idaho Falls Spud Kings mascot “King Tot” after she hit the Chick-fil-A Shoot-to-win shot Feb. 9 at Mountain America Arena.

“I didn’t think I was going to make it, but it just went in,” she said. “Tonight was soooo awesome. I got to go on the ice, got to meet the Spud King (King Tot), and got to do it all with my family.”

Maycee’s dad and stepmom, Billy and Cydnee Radford, both work at the lab, and the Radford family’s magical evening was all part of the good times on INL Night.

To put the cherry on top of this Radford family fairy tale, the Spud Kings scored two first period goals and cruised to a 4-0 win over visiting Utah Outliers.

Lab Director John Wagner dropped the ceremonial first puck as part of the festivities, and the home team ditched its traditional red-and-yellow jerseys in favor of INL-themed blue-and-green shirts designed by INL graphic artists. Those game-worn jerseys were auctioned off to support the Idaho Veterans Chamber of Commerce (IDVCC), generating more than $13,000. The appetite for the INL jerseys was high, with three jerseys selling for more than $1,000.

INL Director John Wagner stands with his son Eric at Mountain America Arena on Feb. 9, posing in his INL specialty jersey and the ceremonial first puck prior to a game between the Idaho Falls Spud Kings and Utah Outliers.

The IDVCC is a nonprofit organization that works with INL’s National University Programs to bring veterans into the lab through the Department of Defense SkillBridge program. The organization empowers veterans to take advantage of opportunities at INL, assisting with housing and other transitional needs.

“The opportunity to partner with INL has established pathways to support our business and workforce needs by providing resources and support,” IDVCC Executive Director Mindi Anderson said. “We are tremendously grateful for the opportunities to build strong partnerships with INL creating a brighter future for Idaho veterans and their families.”

Anderson also said the funds raised on INL Night help IDVCC keep its membership and navigation services free as members pursue new career and educational opportunities, as well work through the details of such things as purchasing a home or starting a business.

BEA provided 600 discounted tickets to INL employees and their families as part of INL Night, and new hires were also offered a shot at free tickets for the evening.

Members of the Idaho Falls Spud Kings run through warmups Feb. 9 prior to a home game against the Utah Outliers.

Make no mistake, free Spud Kings tickets are worth their weight in chicken sandwiches. The Mountain America Center has been sold out for every Spud Kings game this season. And with 2,000 current season ticket holders and a waiting list 600 names long, it is easy to argue there is no hotter ticket in town than a Spud Kings ticket.

For Spud Kings and Idaho Falls Chukars General Manager Kevin Greene, INL’s sponsorship of the Feb. 9 game was just another chapter in a long and storied history of consistent community support.

“INL has been one of our biggest supporters, year in and year out, both on the ice and with the Idaho Falls Chukars,” Greene said. “INL’s support is vital to our community in so many ways, and this was a perfect example of their commitment.”

National and Homeland Security program manager Eleanor Taylor, a dedicated Chicago Blackhawks fan who moved from Chicago to join INL, is now a proud Spud Kings season ticket holder. Taylor said Spud Kings games are “great family fun” for her and her people.

“I don’t think there’s a bad seat in the arena,” she said. “From an INL standpoint, it is great to see the sense of community and incredible support the lab provides to local charities. It makes me proud to be a part of Team INL.”

Idaho Falls Spud Kings fans bid for game-worn jerseys on INL’s Specialty Jersey Night as part of a fundraiser during a Feb. 9 home game against the Utah Outliers.

About Idaho National Laboratory

Battelle Energy Alliance manages INL for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy. INL is the nation’s center for nuclear energy research and development, celebrating 75 years of scientific innovations in 2024. The laboratory performs research in each of DOE’s strategic goal areas: energy, national security, science and the environment. 

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Posted March 1, 2024

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