ROANOKE, Va. – Year one was about establishing a presence and understanding requirements. But now in their second year in existence, the Roanoke Railyard Dawgs are focusing on building continuity on the ice.
The Rail Yard Dawgs notched a record of 17-30-9 in their inaugural season, and missed the playoffs by a hair. As they open up camp this fall, they feel more confident than ever before to be a contender.
"We know whats expected of us, what Sam [Coach] expects from us," said goalie and fan favorite Ryan De Melo.
"So we're not starting 5 yards back, we're starting equal with everyone else on par ready to get things going."
The team has more than 10 guys back in camp from last year's team, including Nick Schneider, who assisted or scored on 40 goals and Steve Mele, who scored 8 goals and 13 assists.
"Kind of like being in high school you feel more comfortable as a sophomore, whether it's your classes or anything like that so it's the same thing here," said Mele.
"We know the systems more and we'll teach the new guys what we experienced last year and how to carry it forward."
And after numerous injuries and call ups, coach Sam Ftorek said keeping a core group of guys on the ice is vital.
"We struggled last year because we didn't have enough guys in the lineup that knew what to be doing," Ftorek said.
"So we want to make sure not only keep the same group on the ice, we establish sort of a character of our team and continue that no matter who's in the lineup."
The first drop of the puck will be Oct. 20, as the Dawgs host the Fayetteville Marksmen at the Berglund Center.