Peoria, Il. – Courtesy: Brian Gardner/Railyard Dawgs
Maxime Guyon scored twice, Jacob Caffrey made 41 saves and the Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs jumped out to a 4-0 lead and withstood a furious rally to defeat the Peoria Rivermen, 4-3, in game two of the Challenge Round series. The Dawgs swept the best-of-three series, 2-0, and advanced to the semifinals of the President's Cup Playoffs.
Roanoke got on the board first in the opening period while working shorthanded. Jordan Carvalho carried the puck down the right wing and sent a pass toward Jeff Jones streaking to the back post. It caromed off a Peoria defenseman and into the net, giving the Dawgs a 1-0 lead.
They added to that lead a few minutes later after Rivermen goaltender Storm Phaneuf played the puck behind his net and had his clearing attempt intercepted by Guyon at the blue line. Guyon quickly fired a slap shot that beat Phaneuf to the net and it was 2-0 Dawgs.
In the second, Jones took a pass from Alex Adams and sprinted in to the attacking zone. He fired a shot that Phaneuf blocked but Cody Dion gathered the rebound and slung it in. That would be it for Phaneuf who was pulled after allowing three goals on ten shots. Stephen Klein entered in the Rivermen net with his team trailing, 3-0.
The Dawgs added to that lead on the first shot that Klein would face. Guyon forced another turnover and unleashed a snap shot that beat Klein low, giving the Dawgs a 4-0 advantage.
Peoria began to chip away at the Roanoke lead in the final minutes of the second. After a pair of minor penalties on Caffrey sent the Dawgs to a two-man disadvantage, Justin Greenberg buried a shot on the back door to put the Rivermen on the board.
With under nine minutes to play in the third, Pijus Rulevicius took the puck in the right wing and fired a shot on net that Caffrey got a piece of but not quite enough. It trickled over the goal line and Peoria was within two.
The Rivermen were granted a power play with less than four minutes to play and eventually pulled Klein for an extra attacker to skate six-on-four. Ralfs Grinbergs carried the puck toward the net on the left wing and put a shot on net that was blocked by Caffrey but he was able to sneak the rebound past the Dawgs goaltender to make the score, 4-3.
Peoria kept coming in the final two-plus minutes, swarming Caffrey's net with chance after chance. With an extra attacker on again in the final seconds, bodies crashed around the crease and sticks swatted at the puck but Caffrey kept it out and the final horn sounded, cementing the Dawgs victory. Roanoke took the best-of-three series, 2-0, and became the first team to advance to the semifinals.
Caffrey finished with 41 saves and Guyon had two goals to pace the offense. The Rail Yard Dawgs won a playoff series for the first time in franchise history.
The remainder of the Challenge Round Series have only played one game so Roanoke's second round opponent is not yet known. The schedule of the semifinal series will be announced after the opponent is determined.