The Rail Yard Dawgs announced on Tuesday that Matt O’Dea would return for Roanoke’s training camp, as well as two newcomers — Zakariya Sheikh and Christian Vella.

O’Dea has played 45 career regular season games in the SPHL, including 41 for the Rail Yard Dawgs after joining Roanoke from the Fayetteville Marksmen during the 2019-2020 season. An Illinois native, the five-foot-ten utility player scored four goals and added 11 assists for Roanoke during the 2019-2020 season. Last season O’Dea played for the FPHL’s Columbus River Dragons, recording five goals and seven assists in 18 appearances.

“Matt is one of the best skaters in the entire league,” said Coach Bremner when asked about O’Dea. “His speed makes him a factor in every game. Two years ago, Matt split time between playing forward and defense and was very effective at both ends. Having a player that is so versatile on the ice is valuable in a long hard hockey season.”

Sheikh joins the Dawgs after supplying two assists in his first two professional appearances for the FPHL’s Danbury Hat Tricks in the 2019-2020 campaign before COVID-19 halted the season. Prior to joining the Hat Tricks, the right-shot defenseman played three seasons at Lebanon College (NCAA-DIII) after transferring from Stevenson University. During his four-year collegiate career, the six-foot defenseman totaled seven assists in 47 career games.

Vella enters his rookie season with the Rail Yard Dawgs after playing college hockey at Morrisville State (NCAA-DIII). A five-foot-ten forward, Vella scored five goals and added seven assists in 60 career games. The SUNYAC cancelled the 2020-2021 season prior to Vella’s senior season.

Roanoke hits the ice for its first home game in 601 days on Friday, October 15 at 7:05 P.M. against the Fayetteville Marksmen. Opening Night is sponsored by Haley Toyota of Roanoke. Season tickets, packages, and group tickets are on sale now and can be purchased by contacting the Dawgs front office at 540-266-7343.