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Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs will not play this season, citing the coronavirus pandemic

SPHL’s reduced schedule only includes 5 teams playing a 42 regular season games

ROANOKE, Va. – The Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs have announced that the franchise will opt out of the upcoming 2020-21 season.

The organization made the announcement Tuesday, citing the “ongoing COVID-19 conditions that impact statewide restrictions on mass gatherings and events.”

“Today is a tough day for the team,” said Rail Yard Dawgs President Mickey Gray. “We have been working diligently to attempt to have a season, but unfortunately due to current conditions and restrictions we simply cannot. Virginia is still in Phase 3, which limits all gatherings, including hockey games, to 1,000 people. The SPHL gave all teams a decision deadline and we had to make the best decision for our organization long term, which is opting out this season.”

The inability to have more than 1,000 fans in attendance played a big role in the Dawgs opting out (WSLS)

“The Rail Yard Dawgs will be back for the 2021-22 season; there is absolutely no question about that. We are already preparing for it,” said Gray. “We have seen a tremendous amount of community support over the past seven months, but our battle isn’t over yet. We will endure the coming months without our normal game-related revenue like tickets, jersey auctions, concessions, and more. Our hope is that fans and supporters continue to rally around the team during this challenging time.”

Season ticket holders and corporate partners who have purchased packages for the 2020-21 season can find information concerning the credit and refund process via the Rail Yard Dawgs website.

Robyn Schon, general manager of the Berglund Center, hopes fans continue to support the Rail Yard Dawgs.

“We regret that we won’t see our beloved Dawgs hit the ice this season, but we understand the challenges and stand behind the organization’s decision. We look forward to next season and hope that fans will find ways to continue promoting the team during their absence,” said Schon.

The SPHL is set to drop the puck for the 2020-2021 regular season on Saturday, December 26 with the Birmingham Bulls, Huntsville Havoc, Knoxville Ice Bears, Macon Mayhem and Pensacola Ice Flyers set to play the abbreviated schedule.

Along with the Rail Yard Dawgs, the Quad City Storm, Peoria Rivermen, Evansville Thunderbolts and Fayetteville Marksmen have opted out.

Additional information on the 2020-2021 season, including schedules and a playoff format, will be announced in the near future.

Dawgs coach Dan Bremner with the team during the 2019 season (WSLS)

About the Author:

Eric is no stranger to the Roanoke Valley. He is a Roanoke native and proud graduate of William Fleming High School.