KNOXVILLE, TN. – The Rail Yard Dawgs couldn’t hold on during a 5-on-3 penalty kill in the closing minute of regulation, falling 5-4 to the Knoxville Ice Bears on Friday night. C.J. Valerian scored his first professional goal in his pro debut, while Brady Heppner, Vojtech Zemlicka, and Mac Jansen added scores for Roanoke.

The Dawgs got off to a quick start via Valerian’s screamer at the 2:26 mark that gave them the lead. Knoxville answered quickly, scoring twice in the next 95 seconds through Jared Nash and Razmuz Waxin-Engback to take a 2-1 lead. That score held into the first intermission.

Heppner’s goal at the 3:48 mark in the middle frame prompted the Ice Bears to pull goalie Sammy Bernard in favor of Evan Moyse, as Roanoke tied the score at 2-2. A pair of Roanoke penalties led to two power play goals for the Ice Bears, and the score that made it 4-2 Knoxville prompted the Dawgs to pull Henry Dill for Austyn Roudebush around the halfway point in the game. Zemlicka had a beautiful end-to-end run that ended in an excellent solo goal to pull the score back to 4-3 during four-on-four action, and the second period ended with the Dawgs trailing by just one.

The third period started with the Dawgs on a penalty kill after Roudebush was assessed an unsportsmanlike conduct minor after the second period ended for jawing with Moyse. However, it was Jansen who slammed in a feed from Dillon Hill to grab a shorthanded goal for the Dawgs and tie the score at 4-4 just 27 seconds into the final period. Both teams had chances, until the final 2:06 when five penalties were committed. Four of them were against Roanoke, who desperately tried to kill off a 5-on-3 power play. Stefan Brucato finally netted the puck with 42 seconds left to grab the victory for Knoxville.

Dill saved 14-of-18 shots that he faced for Roanoke, and Roudebush saved 10-of-11 in relief. Sammy Bernard stopped nine-of-11 shots for Knoxville, while Moyse kept out 14-of-16.. The Ice Flyers went 3-for-8 on the power play, while Roanoke went 0-for-4 on its chances.

The Rail Yard Dawgs stay on the road tomorrow night at 7:35 p.m. EST against the Knoxville Ice Bears. Wisler Plumbing and Air Family Four Packs, group tickets, 2022-2023 season tickets, and single game tickets for home games are on sale now, and you can listen to the games on the Haley Toyota Rail Yard Dawgs Hockey Network via Mixlr or watch it on HockeyTV.

Photo Credit: Brian Collett