Rail Yard Dawgs Take 2-1 Lead in SPHL Finals

By: Joey Raymond

Headline Photo Credit: Kate Lovell-LMS Network

ROANOKE, VA-Game three of a possible five begins after a two-game split between the Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs and Birmingham Bulls in games one and two. The Dawgs came away with a massive game-one win despite spending 40 minutes in the penalty box and receiving two 5-minute major penalties. Whereas I thought that for the Dawgs to win they needed to stay out of the box, (which I still believe to be the case) they got some much-needed short-handed and power-play goals to pull away in game one, ultimately winning 4 to 2. In game two the Bulls had one mindset, suffocating defense. The Dawgs got several shots off during the game but for the second straight game received a five-minute major penalty and couldn’t stay out of the box in general. In game two the Dawgs spent 19 minutes in the box, which is better than game one but isn’t ideal when you need your best players on the ice. Time spent in the penalty box will be a key factor to watch for in this game three. As we enter game three after a much-needed couple of days off for both teams, we’ll see the Dawgs take home ice this time. As they are hoping to hoist the cup in front of their home crowd. 

First Period Recap…

Photo Credit: Kate Lovell-LMS Network

The first period begins with a bang! Within the first couple of seconds, we get several big hits and a scuffle after the first stoppage of play. In front of about a 75% capacity crowd, the Dawgs and Bulls are shaping up to have a very physical game. We get our first penalty at the 15:13 second mark from Jarrad Vroman from the Dawgs for slashing, which is quickly followed by another penalty from the Bulls’ Jared Bethune for interference, bringing the game to 4 on 4 hockey. Several close scoring chances happen during 4 on 4 play, this doesn’t prove fruitful for either side, as we continue back at full strength. The Birmingham Bulls strike first at the 10:38 mark from Carson Rose. He hit a top-shelf backhanded shot after a turnover from the Dawgs on their end. The Dawgs strike back in a hurry however, scoring a goal on a massive slap shot at the 9:15 mark from John Stampohar, bringing the game to a tie. We get all the way down to the 4:49 mark before we see any more action when the Dawgs get to go on the power play due to Birmingham having too many men on the ice. The Dawgs score after time expired on the power play, getting a clutch goal from Nick Ford to take a 2 to 1-lead. The excitement doesn’t last long though as the Bulls strike back with vengeance scoring 40 seconds later with a goal from Zac Masson, to tie it back up. The period ends shortly after, with the score still being tied at 2 a piece. 

Second Period Recap…

Photo Credit: Kate Lovell-LMS Network

The second period begins with the Bulls in possession of the puck. We see our first piece of the action in the period when the Bulls commit the first ice crime of the period. Jake Pappalardo goes into the penalty box because of cross-checking and the Dawgs go on the power play. The Dawgs score quickly on the power play thanks in part to CJ Stubbs and company. The Dawgs take a 3 to 2 lead on the power play goal, as Berglund Center starts to make some noise afterward.  We don’t see anything else of significance happen until the Dawgs commit a penalty at the 13:02 mark. John Stampohar is the culprit this time as he gets time for tripping, then almost immediately after Nick DeVito gets called for cross-checking, thus giving Birmingham a 5 on 3 power play. The Dawgs miraculously kill both penalties bringing them back to full strength. The game continues to the 5:35 mark until we see another Dawgs penalty where Billy Vizzo gets called for hooking, giving the Bulls another power play. The Bulls are unsuccessful again, as the Dawgs kill off yet another penalty. The time ticks off the clock down to zeros in the second period and the Dawgs currently lead 3 to 2. 

Third Period Recap…

Photo Credit: Kate Lovell-LMS Network

We begin the third period and the players are already jostling in the center circle as the puck drops and we’re off! The Birmingham Bulls managed to strike 27 seconds into the period scoring a goal on the stick side of goalie Austin Roudebush. Jake Pappalardo is the goal scorer, tying the game up at 3 goals a piece. It takes approximately 5 minutes until the Dawgs get their revenge, as Nick DeVito fires a slap shot goal into the Bulls net, giving the Dawgs a 4 to 3 lead. The pressure inside the Berglund Center is palpable. We continue to the 7:14 mark before Birmingham commits a brutal hit on Nick DeVito, it’s called a 5-minute major, and an ejection for Joe Colatari on the Bulls. This puts the Dawgs on a major power play which means that even if they score they’ll stay on the power play for the full 5 minutes of the penalty. This means that it won’t be until 2 minutes left in the period that the Bulls will be back at full strength. This doesn’t prevent the Bulls from scoring though as they score a short-handed goal from Carson Rose, tying up the game at 4 goals a piece. The period ends with a tie and we will head into overtime. 

Overtime Period… 

Photo Credit: Kate Lovell-LMS Network

The overtime period works like sudden death, essentially whoever scores first will win the game. If we are still tied at the end of the period we will play another, this works until someone scores, declaring them the winner. The period starts with the Bulls in possession of the puck. They can’t manage to strike first though as we see some back and forth in the period. The Berglund Center hits a fever pitch as the Dawgs put on an incredible show of offense but have no results to show for it. We go to the 8:07 mark when the Dawgs score the winning goal off the stick of Dominiks Marcinkevics. It blooped into the net after the goalie just missed the block on his stick side and it bounced off of his shoulder. The game ends with the Dawgs winning with a score of 5 to 4. 

What’s Next?

Photo Credit: Kate Lovell-LMS Network

These two teams will meet again Tuesday, May 2nd here in the Berglund Center as the Dawgs try to hoist the cup at home. The Rail Yard Dawgs currently lead the series 2 games to 1. This intense series can only be described as electric. All the Dawgs players and Head Coach Dan Bremner described the environment as the “loudest crowd they’ve ever played in” and they hope to use that to their advantage as they try to close the series out. Be on the lookout for the next game article because we’ll be there to cover it.