ROANOKE, VA. – The Rail Yard Dawgs (25-14-3) erased a three-goal deficit on Saturday night, defeating the Knoxville Ice Bears (25-16-3) in a 5-4 comeback win at Berglund Center. Brady Heppner capped off four unanswered goals, scoring the game-winning goal on a short-handed breakaway to seal the win in front of a franchise record 7,015 fans in attendance.
Both teams operated off a short roster, with Roanoke dressing 14 players and Knoxville dressing 11 due to the game misconducts from Friday night’s game. Despite the quick offensive start for the Dawgs with a 14-6 shot on goal advantage, the Ice Bears struck the first two goals when Nick Pryce scored just 3:28 in the first period and Matt O’Shaughnessy scored at the 14:20 mark. Knoxville’s second goal forced Roanoke’s Austyn Roudebush into the net to relieve Brody Claeys. The Dawgs trailed 2-0 at the first intermission.
Nick DeVito put the Dawgs on the board just over six minutes into the second period, but Knoxville then scored back-to-back goals. Pryce notched goals at 13:22 and 17:17 to make it a 4-1 hole for the Dawgs and completed his hat trick. But just before the teams left for the locker room, Nick Ford scored a power play goal to start the comeback with 32 seconds left in the frame, and DeVito’s tip on a Stephen Alvo blast gave him his second of the night and made it a 4-3 game heading to the third period.
Knoxville’s Ryan Devine was given a game misconduct for unsportsmanlike conduct after the conclusion of the second period, shortening Knoxville’s bench to 10 available players for the final period. Roanoke quickly got to work on another power play, as captain Mac Jansen tied the game at 4-all just 4:31 into the final period. Then, after the Dawgs went on the penalty kill for too many men, Josh Nenadal’s hit at the Dawgs’ blue line set up Heppner to charge down the ice unassisted for the short-handed goal with just over five minutes to play. The Ice Bears didn’t have enough gas to overcome their second blown multi-goal lead in as many nights, as the Dawgs reeled off another wild comeback at home.
Roudebush stopped 13-of-15 shots faced in net for Roanoke after Brody Claeys stopped 3-of-5 in the first period, while Knoxville’s Bailey McBurnie saved 34-of-39 shots faced. Roanoke went 2-for-3 on the power play, while the Ice Bears were 1-for-3.
Roanoke will travel to Knoxville on Thursday, March 2 at 7:35 p.m. EST at Knoxville Civic Coliseum. Season tickets and single-game tickets are available by calling the Rail Yard Dawgs office, visiting the ‘Tickets’ page on our website, or by visiting the Berglund Center box office.
Photo Credit: Savannah Reger