ROANOKE, Va. – The Rail Yard Dawgs announced on Saturday that the team has signed rookie defenseman Aidan Girduckis to a standard professional contract (SPC), and have activated defenseman Matt O’Dea from the injured reserve. Forward Brenden Stanko has been placed on the 14-day injured reserve (retroactive to March 23), and the team also placed rookie forward Greg Smith on team suspension.

Smith will be returning to Lakehead University to complete the remainder of his last undergraduate semester. Roanoke maintains his SPHL rights, and Smith remains eligible to be selected for the protected list for the 2024-2025 campaign after this current season concludes.

Girduckis joined the Dawgs from Chatham University (NCAA-DIII), where he played for four seasons after transferring from Robert Morris University (NCAA-DI). During his first nine games with the Dawgs on PTO contracts, the rookie has notched three assists, eight penalty minutes, and a plus-10 rating (third-best on the team this season). The six-foot-four defenseman had five goals, 27 assists, and 79 penalty minutes in 77 games while at Chatham, and recorded one goal, 12 penalty minutes, and a minus-one rating in 22 games over two seasons at Robert Morris. Before his college career, the Belleville, Ontario native played three seasons of junior hockey in the OJHL (Wellington Dukes) and CCHL (Carleton Place Canadians). The right-shot blue-liner notched 22 goals, 58 assists, and 199 penalty minutes in 195 combined games played between the two leagues.

O’Dea is in his fourth season with the Dawgs, and at the time of his injury, was leading the team in points this year (37) and assists (30), while ranking tied for first and first respectively in both of those categories among the SPHL defensemen leaderboards. The five-foot-eleven defenseman has been among the best offensive producers from the blue line in the SPHL over the past three years, tallying 31 goals (most among SPHL defensemen) and 70 assists in 132 games since the start of the 2021-2022 regular season, as only Peoria’s Zach Wilkie has more assists or points than O’Dea in that span. The Orland Park, Illinois native added two goals and two assists during the team’s run to the President’s Cup title in the spring. O’Dea is in his second season serving as an alternate captain for the Dawgs, and he currently ranks among the franchise’s top seven all-time leaders for games played (173), goals (36), assists (81), and points (116).

Stanko is in his first full season of professional hockey, signing with the Dawgs back on November 28 after returning to the FPHL’s Binghamton Black Bears at the start of this season. In 33 games for Roanoke this season, Stanko has recorded 11 goals, 18 assists, and a plus-four rating. Playing under former Dawg and current Binghamton head coach Brant Sherwood, the six-foot-one forward won the FPHL’s Rookie of the Month award to start this season by putting up 12 goals, 15 assists, and a plus-19 plus/minus rating in just 14 games before heading to Roanoke. Prior to joining the Black Bears, the Howell, Michigan native played five seasons at Adrian College (ACHA), helping the Bulldogs win the 2020-21 ACHA Division One National Championship. In 142 college games, Stanko notched 81 goals and 114 assists.

Smith joined the Dawgs from Lakehead University (USports), where he played for five seasons. The six-foot-one forward recorded 13 shots on goal, 17 penalty minutes, and a minus-two rating in six games for the Dawgs. In his collegiate career, Smith had 16 goals, 26 assists, and 84 penalty minutes in 101 career games while at Lakehead. This past season at Lakehead, the Ajax, Ontario native tallied four goals, five assists, and 16 penalty minutes in 30 games played. Before his college career, the 25-year-old forward played five seasons of junior hockey for five teams in three different leagues – the OHL, OJHL, and NOJHL. In 214 combined games between the OJHL and NOJHL, the right-shot winger recorded 45 goals, 87 assists, and 144 penalty minutes. He will wear number 48 for the Rail Yard Dawgs.

The Rail Yard Dawgs host the Fayetteville Marksmen on Saturday night, March 30 at 7:05 P.M. EST at Berglund Center, and you can watch the game on Flo or listen in on Mixlr. Playoff packages are on sale now, and can be purchased by contacting the Rail Yard Dawgs office. Other season ticket packages, group tickets, and single-game tickets are on sale now by contacting the Rail Yard Dawgs office or visiting the Berglund Center box office. 

Photo Credit: David Ingraham (Girduckis) // Bryar Turner (O’Dea)

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