ROANOKE – Hockey season has come to an end here in Roanoke but the Rail Yard Dawgs are coming off the best season they've had in franchise history, advancing to the SPHL playoff semifinals before falling short to Birmingham on Saturday.
The Dawgs were a period and a half from advancing to the President's Cup finals before the Bulls made a comeback to win 6-4.
"That third period, it was that four minute stretch. When we went up 4-2, (we had) all the momentum in the world and we let them creep back in before the intermission. So I think that's what really hurt us," said Roanoke head coach Dan Bremner.
No. 5 seed Roanoke kicked off its playoff run with an upset over No. 1 seed and regular season champ Peoria in the challenge round.
"Obviously becoming the fifth seed, earning the fifth seed and having the one seed picking us and knocking them off in the first round shows that any team can win on any given night. And if you get the right group of guys together you can really do something special," said right wing Mac Jansen.
As the Dawgs' success grows, so has their popularity. The Berglund Center has been a hotbed for hockey fans.
"It's a great place to play. Just the passion. You go into some road games and it's not even close to what we get here and having that makes you want to play for it definitely," said Jansen.
"We love our fans. Loudest in the SPHL. I think the best fans in the SPHL. We only had a crowd of 16 (hundred) - 1,700 at our first playoff home game, but it was deafening in there. The noise was incredible," said Bremner.
The Dawgs finish with a record of 28-24-4, the most wins in a single season in their three year history.