PEORIA, IL. – The Rail Yard Dawgs (3-1) conceded twice in a span of 31 seconds in the first period and could never quite catch up to the Peoria Rivermen (3-1) in a 5-3 loss at Carver Arena on Friday night. Nick DeVito tallied a hat trick for Roanoke, the first of his professional career.

The first period was back and forth until identical tugs of the jersey by Roanoke’s Matt O’Dea and Peoria’s Alec Hagaman led to a penalty called against O’Dea. The Rivermen needed just nine seconds on the man-advantage to open the scoring on a Mitch McPherson goal at 7:18. Just 31 seconds later, Mike Gelatt wrapped around the Roanoke net and tucked the puck at the left-side post to make it 2-0 for Peoria. Worse yet, the Dawgs were whistled for a penalty after the Peoria goal, and went back on the penalty kill. A clearance by Roanoke goaltender Austyn Roudebush found Josh Nenadal, and Nenadal created a 2-on-1 shorthanded chance that was centered to DeVito for an easy finish at 8:43. The Dawgs skated well for the next nine or so minutes and had chances to tie it, but a defensive breakdown in the final 68 seconds of the period allowed Peoria’s Marcel Godbout to make the score 3-1 just before the intermission.

Roanoke conceded another power play goal early in the middle frame at 3:30, as Alec Baer scored just 10 seconds into the power play chance to make it 4-1. DeVito wasted no time pulling that goal back for the Dawgs, finishing off his own rebound as he was hit by a Rivermen defenseman just 23 seconds later to make it a 4-2 game. The Dawgs were about to gain their first power play of the night at 11:26, and emptied the net as the delayed penalty call allowed Roanoke to extend its power play chance. An errant puck off of Matt O’Dea’s stick ended up in the back of his own net, and Peoria’s lead grew to 5-2 on an unlucky bounce for the Dawgs. That Roanoke power play and another late in the period didn’t light the lamp, and the Dawgs trailed by three entering the final period.

The third period started great for Roanoke. CJ Stubbs found Nick Ford, and Ford centered it to an open DeVito for his hat trick-sealing goal just 17 seconds into the period, and just like that the Dawgs were down by just a pair. Roanoke had some chances to bring that deficit even closer in the final minutes, but just couldn’t quite find another goal as Peoria held on to even the series at 1-1 and set up a decisive Game Three on Sunday night.

Roanoke’s Austyn Roudebush saved 28-of-32 shots faced, while Peoria’s Jack Berry saved 21-of-24 shots in the game. The Dawgs went 0-for-3 on the power play, while the Rivermen were 2-for-5 on their power play chances.

Roanoke will stay on the road for Game Three on Sunday, April 23 against the Peoria Rivermen. Puck drop is scheduled for 5:15 p.m. EST at Carver Arena. The Dawgs will be hosting a Bud Light Watch Party at Club 611 located inside of Berglund Center for the away game (attendance is free to public, food/beverages available for purchase). Single-game playoff tickets are on sale now online or at the Berglund Center box office. Roanoke’s 2023 President’s Cup Playoffs run is sponsored by Haley Toyota of Roanoke.

Photo Credit: Brian Collett // BC Captures