Rail Yard Dawgs Take Game 1, Defeat Rivermen 3-2

By: Joey Raymond

Headline Photo Credit: Katie Lovell-LMS Network

Pre-Game Needs to Know…

Photo Credit: Katie Lovell-LMS Network Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs vs Peoria Rivermen (4-19-23)

​First and Foremost, the very uniquely named Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs, face off in game one of three in round two of the SPHL playoffs against the Peoria Rivermen. Peoria ended the season with a 39-14-3-1 record resulting in a 1 seed, and Roanoke ended the season with a 32-19-3-2 record resulting in a 4 seed. (For those not familiar with hockey the order of those numbers is wins-losses-overtime losses-shootout losses). The SPHL playoffs have been electric so far, both of these teams are coming off sweeps in the last round. Since Roanoke is the lower seed they host game one and games two and three will be in Peoria. Both squads will try to grab lightning in a bottle and make their way into the President’s Cup final.

1st Period Recap…

Photo Credit: Katie Lovell-LMS Network Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs vs Peoria Rivermen (4-19-23)

​The puck drops and “Let’s Go Dawgs” chants rain down on the ice. Peoria gets the puck to start the game. Before the first break, Jason Lavellee gets a massive hit to get the physicality going for Roanoke. After some back and forth, Peoria then gets a penalty for too many men on the ice, and Roanoke heads to the power play. The Dawgs miss several opportunities to capitalize though as Peoria gets a couple of short-handed opportunities. No one scores on either side, however, as the score remains tied at zero. Peoria returns to full strength and they go back and forth feeling each other out like boxers do early in a fight. Peoria gets another penalty, this time for hooking. As Roanoke is on the power play, Peoria takes advantage of the aggressive play from the Dawgs and scores a short-handed goal from Alec Hagaman. Peoria takes a 1-0 lead. Roanoke won’t be denied for long though as shortly after they score a goal themselves. Nick Fuller fires an absolute rocket of a slap shot into the net knocking the water bottle off the top of the net. The Dawgs try to continue that momentum swing but in doing so they find themselves in the penalty box, this time for holding. Peoria goes on the power play and tries to take advantage and gets denied by Roudebush a couple of times before finally breaking through, as Marcel Godbout scores a goal by squeaking one under Roudebush in the butterfly. This gives the Rivermen a 2-1 lead. Peoria’s Joseph Widmar ends up in the penalty box for interference at the 18:31 mark of the period and Roanoke heads to the power play. They can’t take advantage before the period ends, however, as the score is 2-1, Peoria in the lead.

2nd Period Recap…

Photo Credit: Katie Lovell-LMS Network Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs vs Peoria Rivermen (4-19-23)

​Roanoke starts in the 2nd with a faceoff win and takes the puck past the blue line and into the zone. The teams continue with the Dawgs keeping it on their end for a majority of the first couple minutes. During this time the Dawgs create a ‘shots on goal’ onslaught, going from 8 shots on goal to 11. After about 5 minutes into the period Peoria tries to snag some momentum back, but the Dawgs keep up the physical play, laying some big hits as time continues to wind down. Peoria snags a slashing penalty, with 12 minutes left to play and the Dawgs go on the power play. The Dawgs take advantage as they score a clutch power-play goal, tying the game at 2 points a piece. The Dawgs continue to take advantage as the clock reads 8:31 seconds left, scoring another goal, giving them a 3 to 2 lead. “Let’s Go Dawgs” chants are ear-piercing at this point as the crowd is getting behind the home squad. The Dawgs almost score another a minute after that though, as they get a breakaway shot that’s saved with an insane play by the goalie, Jack Berry for the Rivermen. As we get closer to the end of the period, you can tell the frustration is getting to Peoria as they try to pick up some fights with Roanoke, only to be broken up by the referees. The period comes closer to the end with not much doing from either side other than a couple of saves. Time runs out on period two as the Dawgs lead it 3-2.

3rd Period Recap…

Photo Credit: Katie Lovell-LMS Network Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs vs Peoria Rivermen (4-19-23)

​We start the third and final period with Peoria winning the face-off. The first couple of minutes started to slow with a couple of shots on goal from both squads. Both Berry and Roudebush save these shots though and we continue at 3-2. Four minutes after a Roudebush save, both teams received a penalty. Roanoke gets a penalty for roughing and Peoria gets a penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct. Both teams get sent to the box for two minutes, and they’ll play even strength 4 on 4. We come back to full strength and the teams continue to trade body blows and play a physical brand of hockey. Roudebush makes an incredible save on a puck that was destined for the net at the 12:33 mark, as Roanoke plays more defensively, letting Peoria dictate the period so far. Roanoke does manage a breakaway during: this time but can’t make anything of it, leaving the score at 3-2. Roanoke gets a penalty at the 8:48 mark for interference, opening the door for Peoria as they go on the power play. During the power play, Roudebush makes some awesome saves, as Roanoke kills the penalty. Roanoke is focusing their efforts on defense as they have yet to put a shot on goal in the period. They finally get a shot on goal at the 4:07 mark, which is saved by Berry. As Roudebush makes yet another save at the 1:23 mark Berglund Center sounds like the roof is about to explode. This modest crowd is making themselves known. The clock ticks down and they can feel it now as the Dawgs secure the win as the clock strikes all zeros.

Post Game and What’s Next…

Photo Credit: Katie Lovell-LMS Network Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs vs Peoria Rivermen (4-19-23)

All in all, I think this game is best summed up in the words of Head Coach Dan Bremner “Ugly”. This was a hard-fought game with several penalties and a lot of hard hits back and forth. When asked about it though, Coach Dan said “Good teams find a way to win, even when things aren’t going their way” This is the type of game that’s fun for fans but is a head coach’s nightmare. Regardless, the Dawgs are glad to get a win and will look to continue the momentum Friday, April 21st in Peoria. Josh Nenadal said when asked about going into Peoria that “going into that barn and taking one of two is not an easy task. Not many teams have done it.” The Dawgs will have a lot to overcome if they’re going to move on to the final, but the feeling you get from the players and coach’s is that they are up for the challenge.