PELHAM, Ala. – In more ways than one, Thursday’s President’s Cup Finals opener between Birmingham and Roanoke served as an opening salvo.
For starters, both teams matched one another with single goals through the first two periods before a pair of lamp lighters by the Railyard Dawgs in the third period by Nick Ford and Matt O’Dea within three minutes of one another gave Roanoke a 1-0 series lead. Being pushed to the brink is hardly new for these Bulls. They’ve won their two postseason series in elimination games, and they knocked off Fayetteville in the first round after dropping the series opener.
The other opening run of the series had its markings shown through time in the penalty box on a night that saw Roanoke win despite two game misconduct penalties, two major penalties, and even goalie Austyn Roudebush being tagged for penalties of slashing and roughing 13:26 into the third period.
But the thing that mattered most to Roanoke on this night was the scoreboard, and thanks to Roudebush turning away 25 shots, 15 in the third period, the Railyard Dawgs are one win closer to a championship.
GAME ONE BELONGS TO US! ✅
Roanoke locks down Birmingham in a 4-2 win on Thursday night in the President's Cup Final. Goals by Stephen Alvo, Jason Lavallée, Nick Ford, and Matt O'Dea paced the Dawgs, while Austyn Roudebush made 25 saves!
TWO. MORE. Ws. 👏 pic.twitter.com/TDsM0PoEQX
— Rail Yard Dawgs (@RailYardDawgs) April 28, 2023
Ford’s impact was in more than Thursday’s go-ahead goal. He assisted on O’Dea’s insurance goal 5:16 into the third, while in the second period, his assist of Jason Lavallee’s power-play goal moved Roanoke in front, getting the puck past Hayden Stewart, who stopped 19-of-23 shots against the Dawgs.
Lavalleee’s score followed a 2-1 Bulls lead, an advantage that began within seconds after faceoff, 29 seconds into the game, to be exact, on a goal by Jake Pappalardo coming off a Roanoke turnover. The Railyard Dawgs didn’t need much time to answer, with Stephen Alvo knotting it up 1-1 just 4:32 into the game.
The opening span of a period was again kind to the Bulls in the second. Just 1:23 in, Scott Donahue put Birmingham back on top, but Roanoke would eventually even up and pull ahead.
Game two of the series is set for Friday night in Birmingham at 8:00 CST before shifting to the Berglund Center in Roanoke for games three and four.
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