ROANOKE, Va. – In front a of a buzzing, eager crowd Saturday night the Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs earned a 5-3 win over the visiting Birmingham Bulls. The win proved to be the fifth straight for Roanoke--a team that boasts the best scoring offense in the SPHL.
Saturday also proved to be the organization’s annual Teddy Bear Toss night. “Those are going to be tossed on the ice, hopefully after our first goal, but what we do after that is take them to the Mission, Salvation Army, the hospital, anywhere that children’s toys and teddy bears would be of service,” Rail Yard Dawgs president Mickey Gray said.
“There’s not a better goal that’s scored than the teddy toss goal, our fans are very quick with it, the second they see the light go on, the bears start flying, by the time we even hit the ice to clean up there’s 100 to 1,000 bears out there.”
Roanoke started off red-hot in the second period, as Jansen blasted a long-range shot from the right wing half-wall to tie the score at 2-all at the 0:42 mark. DeVito tallied a wraparound goal at 1:55 to push Roanoke back in front 3-2. That was the last shot the Dawgs had on net until early in the third period, as Birmingham completely took control of the game. The Bulls struggled to break down Roanoke’s Austyn Roudebush in net, but finally tied the score on a Nick Fea goal at 17:44. The Bulls outshot the Dawgs 16-4 in the period, but the game was tied at 3-3 after two periods.
The Dawgs wrestled control of the game back early in the third period, outshooting the Bulls 20-10 overall in the frame. A go-ahead power play score by Leonard at 5:53 put the Dawgs ahead for good. Jansen tallied a rebound goal at 7:11 to add some insurance, and Roanoke’s defense stiffened up against Birmingham’s last-gasp attempts late in regulation.
Roudebush stopped 30-of-33 shots for Roanoke, while Hayden Stewart made 33-of-38 saves for Birmingham. The Dawgs were 1-for4 on the power play, while the Bulls came up empty on their four chances.
Roanoke will hit the road next weekend starting on Friday, December 16 at 7:30 p.m. EST against the Macon Mayhem at Macon Coliseum.