ROANOKE, Va. – The city of Roanoke is known as “The Star City of the South.” It’s now known as something else – home of the 2022-23 SPHL President’s Cup Champions.
One night after late theatrics forced overtime in which the Rail Yard Dawgs prevailed, Roanoke turned back the Bulls once again, winning 2-1 in overtime when team captain Mac Jansen, getting a feed from Billy Vizzo, snaked the puck past Birmingham goalie Hayden Stewart just 2:41 into the extra period.
It was a well-timed snipe for Jansen, one of Roanoke’s top scorers during the season, held off the goal sheet during the postseason…until his clutch game-winner on Tuesday night.
The win gave the Railyard Dawgs their first SPHL championship, winning the series 3-1, two wins in the series coming in overtime.
BUSINESS FINISHED!! ✅
For the very first time, your Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs are PRESIDENT'S CUP CHAMPIONS of the @SPHL!! 🏆 pic.twitter.com/F2l1fSxQP5
— Rail Yard Dawgs (@RailYardDawgs) May 3, 2023
Those two OT wins had one thing in common – both were forced by Birmingham’s Carson Rose on successive nights. In the waning seconds of regulation, the crowd at the Berglund Center had the emotion of a group of people waiting to celebrate a championship, especially after both teams executed successful penalty kills. But with Stewart pulled for an extra attacker, that celebration was deferred as Jordan Martin‘s shot from the right was redirected in by Rose, getting by Railyard Dawgs goalie Austyn Roudebush with just 10.1 seconds left, forcing overtime.
Both Roudebush and Stewart put on a goalie showdown befitting a thrilling series, the game being scoreless for the game’s first 34 minutes. Stewart stopped 33 of 35 Rail Yard Dawgs shots, while Roudebush turned aside 18 of the Bulls 19 shots, en route to being named President’s Cup Finals MVP following the win. He started all nine of Roanoke’s postseason games, posting a 2.18 GAA with one shutout.
The opening scoring deadlock came to an end 14:11 into the second period, with Josh Nenadal making it a 1-0 Rail Yard Dawgs lead. It followed a first period in which Roanoke outshot the Bulls 10-2, followed by a 12-6 edge in the second.
In addition to the goaltending, both teams’ penalty kill groups also shined. After the penalty box was empty for the first 20 minutes, the course reversed in the second, with the Bulls being tagged for six minutes to Roanoke’s four, while in the third, each team drew a pair of minor penalties.
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