PELHAM, Ala. – Jacob Caffrey made 31 saves, Jeff Jones, Everett Thompson and Cody Dion all scored and the Rail Yard Dawgs edged the Birmingham Bulls, 3-2, Saturday night at the Pelham Civic Complex. Roanoke’s win secured the fifth seed in the SPHL postseason.
The Rail Yard Dawgs struck first just over three minutes into the game. Ben Bauer carried the puck below the goal line and sent a pass right to Jones’ tape on the back door. Jones fired a shot that Mavric Parks got a piece of but the puck trickled over the goal line and into the net to make the score 1-0.
It was only a little over a minute later that the Dawgs lit the lamp again. This time Oleksandr Liulchuck backhanded a pass to the left post where Thompson stepped into a one-timer and hammered a shot past Parks. Thompson’s first goal as a Rail Yard Dawg extended the lead to 2-0.
Birmingham got itself on the board in the second period as a bouncing puck found its way to Mike Davis along the left wing. He wristed it past a scrambling Caffrey and the Bulls cut the deficit to one.
The Dawgs worked the lead back to two while on a power play later in the period. Maxime Guyon took a slap shot from the blue line that Dion deflected in from while providing a screen. The puck hit the back of the net and the Roanoke lead was 3-1.
Birmingham got one back later in the period as Jacob Barber toe-dragged into a shot that was blocked but he followed his shot for a rebound that he put over Caffrey’s pad to make it 3-2.
The Bulls mounted pressure in the third and fired 14 shots on net in the final period. Caffrey stopped them all however and finished with 31 saves in the game as the Dawgs held on for the 3-2 win.
Jones’ goal was his 22nd of the season, tying Colin Murray for the team lead. Both Murray and Jones matched Steve Mele’s franchise record of 22 set in the 2017-18 season. Liulchuk and Jordan Carvalho both recorded two assists in the victory.
Roanoke’s win, coupled with the Macon Mayhem falling to the Peoria Rivermen, vaulted the Dawgs into fifth place in the SPHL standings to end the regular season. Roanoke finished the regular season with a record of 28-4-4 and 60 points while the Bulls fell to 39-15-2 in the loss.