ROANOKE, VA. – The Rail Yard Dawgs (26-12-8) were too fast for the Knoxville Ice Bears (16-26-4) on Friday night, rolling to a 4-1 road win at the Knoxville Civic Coliseum. Dominiks Marcinkevics scored twice in his return to the Dawgs, Jacob Kelly and Mac Jansen each had one goal and one assist, and Austyn Roudebush stopped 18-of-19 shots in the victory. With the win tonight, Roanoke becomes the third SPHL team to clinch its spot in the 2024 President’s Cup Playoffs, joining Birmingham and Peoria.

The speed of Roanoke was on full display in the first period, as the Dawgs were credited with a 12-2 shots on goal advantage through the first 19 minutes of the frame. The forechecking pressure by Roanoke kept Knoxville pinned in, but a shorthanded opportunity is how the Dawgs would open the scoring. Marcinkevics received a pass from Brendan Pepe at the left wing, and drilled the back of the net at the 11:00 mark to give Roanoke the lead. That score held into the intermission, but Knoxville would start the second period on a 5-on-3 power play.

The second period saw the score quickly tied on that 5-on-3 power play by Knoxville, as Justin Cmunt lit the lamp just 44 seconds into the frame. Roanoke’s own power play chances finally led to the eventual game-winning goal, as Kelly blasted home a rebound on Pepe’s initial shot at 8:17. Marcinkevics would finish off a breakaway chance from the left side at 9:15 to make it 3-1. Roanoke’s Greg Smith would get a five-minute major for checking from behind at 12:02, but the Dawgs killed off the five-minute penalty with ease, allowing just three shots on goal during the Knoxville advantage. The Dawgs still led by two heading to the final frame. 

Roanoke’s speed kept the Ice Bears at bay throughout the remainder of the contest, as the Ice Bears struggled to leave their own zone on their breakout attempts. A plethora of Knoxville penalties didn’t help the chances to build offensive momentum, as Roanoke looked comfortable down the stretch. At 18:32, a beautifully worked passing sequence by Kelly and Alex DiCarlo set up Jansen for an easy tap-in to seal the win.

Riley Morris saved 34-of-37 shots faced in net for Knoxville. Roanoke went 1-for-9 on the power play, while Knoxville went 1-for-5 on its chances.

The Rail Yard Dawgs will stay on the road on Saturday night, March 9, to take on the Knoxville Ice Bears. Puck drop is slated for 7:35 P.M. EST at Knoxville Civic Coliseum, and you can watch the game on Flo or listen for free on Mixlr. Playoff packages will go on sale on Monday, March 11 at 10 A.M., 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: Katelynn Lovell