ROANOKE, Va. – The Rail Yard Dawgs (22-10-6) controlled the game against the Knoxville Ice Bears (12-21-4), but were snakebitten in a 5-4 overtime loss at Berglund Center on Saturday night. Owen McDade had two goals and Billy Roche and Brenden Stanko each scored once for the Dawgs, but Knoxville’s Zane Steeves made 57 saves to steal the game from Roanoke.
The physicality was on display all throughout the first period of this game, and for the most part, the Dawgs controlled play. Yet, it was Knoxville that scored first, as a faulty line change by Roanoke left Justin Levac all alone at 2:21 to open the scoring. Roanoke’s Josh Nenadal received an aggressor game misconduct after he demolished Knoxville’s Cole McKechney in a fight, and that got the crowd back into it. Two goals by Roanoke in the span of 79 seconds pushed them in front – both by McDade. The first goal came at 14:16, as McDade drove from the left wing corner, across the goal line to the low slot, and backhanded the puck into the net. At 15:35, Jonathan Bartuccio-Pereira dropped the puck off to McDade above the right wing circle in transition, and McDade’s laser pushed Roanoke in front. The Dawgs set a season-high for shots on goal in a single period with 22, and led 2-1 on the strength of that 22-6 shots on goal advantage at the first break.
Knoxville started the second period on a power play stemming from a roughing penalty against Roanoke assessed after the horn sounded in the opening frame. The Ice Bears generated great early pressure on the forecheck, and tied the game when McKechney slotted the puck into the net from just in front of the Roanoke cage at 4:07. The Ice Bears took the lead when Tyler Rollo found Dawson McKinney on a half-breakaway at 13:53, but the Dawgs answered quickly. A center-point rip from an offensive zone faceoff win found the back of the net for Roche at 17:30, and it was all square at 3-3. The Dawgs would finish the second period and start the third frame on the power play, but were tied at 3-3 despite a 45-14 shots on goal advantage.
An early penalty kill by the Ice Bears gave them momentum in the third period, and they capitalized quickly. A Brett Mecrones goal at 2:15 pushed Knoxville in front 4-3, and then the game dissipated into a bit of a penalty fest. After Knoxville took the lead, the Ice Bears got three power play chances and the Dawgs got two over the next 13 minutes of action, but neither team could capitalize. The game broke open at 16:31 when Knoxville’s Cole McKechney planted a dirty hit on Roanoke’s Stephen Alvo. It turned into an eight-man brawl, with eight different penalties assessed. McKechney was given a five-minute charging major and a game misconduct for his hit on Alvo. Alvo and McDade were given fighting majors for the Dawgs (plus a game misconduct for Alvo for aggressor), while Knoxville saw Seth Ensor get a fighting major and an elbowing minor awarded to Justin Levac. After all of that, it became a 5-on-3 power play for the Dawgs for two minutes, and it took until Roanoke added an extra attacker for them to tie the score. Stanko’s goal at 18:27 sent the game to overtime, but a missed chance on the first possession of overtime for the Dawgs allowed a 2-on-1 odd-man rush back the other way. Dawson McKinney tapped home the rebound goal 51 seconds into the extra frame to give the Ice Bears their first win over Roanoke in five tries this season. The Dawgs set a franchise record for shots on goal with 61, and had a season-high of 7,208 fans in attendance.
Austyn Roudebush saved 20-of-25 shots faced for Roanoke, while Zane Steeves saved an incredible 57-of-61 shots faced for Knoxville. Roanoke went 1-for-8 on the power play, while Knoxville went 0-for-5 on its chances.
The Rail Yard Dawgs will stay home on Friday night, February 16, to take on the Evansville Thunderbolts.