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2021 22 roanoke season preview Field Pass Hockey

Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs

2022-23 Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs Season Preview

2022-23 Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs Season Preview

ROANOKE, Va. – The Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs were every bit of a Cinderella story last season, pulling off not one but two upset wins in the President’s Cup Playoffs before ultimately falling short in the finals against Peoria. The postseason run, which saw the Dawgs upset both Knoxville and Huntsville, gave hockey fans in the star city some fond memories. Now, Roanoke looks to show that it’s a frontrunner in the SPHL and that last year’s postseason was not a blip on the radar.

2022-23 Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs Season Preview

Last season in review

As the season went on, Roanoke languished in the lower half of the standings, and on paper, the expectation was for the postseason not to be much different given that a first-round draw was against Knoxville, the team with the league’s top regular-season record. But Roanoke showed off an ‘Underdawg Mentality,” perhaps or perhaps not influenced by an interview that many Roanoke fans latched onto. All the Rail Yard Dawgs did was not just upset the Icebears but do it again in the next round against another title favorite, upsetting Huntsville. The ride ended with a finals loss to Peoria, but not before capturing the hearts and minds of hockey fans in Roanoke, begging the question – why not do it again?

Record & Playoff Appearance: 23-24-9, 55 points. Finished as President’s Cup Playoffs runner-up.

Season Summary: After putting enough late-season distance between themselves and Birmingham, the Rail Yard Dawgs locked up a postseason spot. Rated no better than seventh in goals for, goals against, and on the power play, Roanoke did enough to get to the postseason, but once there, showed that it does not matter what a team does on the way to the playoffs. Rather, what’s important is what happens once there. 

Stats:

Leading Scorer:  Mac Jansen, 60 points (29 goals, 31 assists)

Goals For: 176, 7th in SPHL

Goals Against: 181, 8th in SPHL

Power Play:16.6percent, 7th in SPHL

Penalty Kill: 85 percent, 3rd in SPHL

Offseason Moves

Key Acquisitions:

  • The defense will be supplemented through the arrival of experience as Stephen Alvo, who played 44 games in Birmingham last year, will join a roster of which the core from last season is expected back. Roanoke is following the adage of dancing with the one that brought you, so predictably, an apparent emphasis has been placed on keeping the same group that keyed last year’s run together.
  • For instance, those re-signed in the offseason included forwards CJ Stubbs, Matt O’Dea, Brady Heppner, Mac Jansen, and Nick Devito to go with goalie Austyn Roudebush along with defensemen Sean Leonard and Bryce Martin. With Stubbs, Heppner and Stubbs set to return, that marks three of the top four scorers from last season primed to return.

Key Losses:

  • Veteran defenseman Travis Armstrong brought a strong physical presence up and down the ice through a more than 200-game career that also saw him tack on an excess of 200 penalty minutes. Any time a veteran departs, it’s a loss. But the hope is that with Alvo in the fold and other returners, new faces will step up to fill that void.

2022-23 Schedule Breakdown

Roanoke gets a chance to be “Road Dawgs” early on with seven of the first ten games of the season on the road, the exceptions being the October 21 season opener against Fayetteville, November 4 against the Marksmen, and November 11 against Macon.

And speaking of Fayetteville, the home-and-home series between them and Roanoke starts a season series of 14 between the teams, separated by just 207 miles.

The first sustained homestand will be late in the year and 2023, with five in a row at home from December 29 to January 7, with games against Quad City, Huntsville, and Macon. The only home stretch that long will come in the late part of the season, which could be pivotal and include a match-up Roanoke fans may be looking forward to. Fayetteville comes calling March 24-15, Knoxville on March 26 before a President’s Cup Finals rematch on March 31, and April 1 against Peoria before facing Macon on April 6.

Top Storylines For 2022-23

The question becomes, which Rail Yard Dawgs will we see? The team that was temperamental during the season or the one that was lightning in a bottle during the postseason?

Speaking of postseason showings, is this the next step for Roudebush? He was third among postseason goalies in terms of GAA, and the season before, he was outright dominant for Knoxville with a 1.71 GAA in the regular season. He has proved that when he is on, he can be tough to crack, and if he can get to the level of last year’s postseason and his time in Knoxville, he could be the reason Roanoke is a top-three team this year.

Prediction Sure To Go Right 

Coming off last year’s playoff run, Roanoke shows a hunger to get back, once again getting to the postseason.

Prediction Sure To Go Wrong 

Last year’s postseason is no fluke, and the Rail Yard Dawgs are in contention to win the regular-season title in the final weeks of the regular season.

Download the Field Pass Hockey app from the iTunes or Google Play stores or follow @FieldPassHockey on Twitter for the latest news on the AHL, ECHL, and SPHL throughout the 2022 season!

    Brad Harrison covers the Macon Mayhem for Field Pass Hockey. Follow and interact with him on Twitter @FPHMayhem.

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