PEORIA, IL. – The Rail Yard Dawgs (4-1) scored on their first possession of the night and never looked back, eliminating the top-seeded Peoria Rivermen (3-2) in a 5-3 victory at Carver Arena on Sunday evening. Nick DeVito and Gehrett Sargis each scored twice for Roanoke, Josh Nenadal opened the scoring just 15 seconds into the game, and Austyn Roudebush saved 37-of-40 shots that he faced.

The first period started with a bang for the Dawgs, as Nenadal tipped in a long-range shot by C.J. Valerian to give Roanoke a 1-0 lead just 15 seconds into the action. At 12:39, the Dawgs doubled up, as Sargis tucked home a rebound chance from a Nenadal shot to make it 2-0. Exactly three minutes later, Sargis tucked the puck off of the back of Peoria goalie Jack Berry’s pad to put the Dawgs up by three, and forcing Berry to the bench in favor of Eric Levine. Roanoke ended the period on a 5-on-3 penalty kill, but took the three-goal cushion into the first intermission.

Roanoke killed off the 5-on-3 penalty to start the second period, then had to kill off another Peoria power play near the halfway mark of the action. Finally, on Peoria’s 29th shot of the evening, the Rivermen found their opening goal as Austin Wisely finished off a rebound from a 2-on-1 chance created by J.M. Piotrowski at 14:11. The momentum was short-lived for the hosts, as DeVito slapped home an amazing centering pass by Brendan Pepe just 24 seconds later to put Roanoke back in front 4-1. A five-minute major for boarding against Roanoke’s John Stampohar at 16:42 put the Dawgs back on the kill, and Nenadal joined him with 0.1 seconds left in the period on a tripping minor. The Dawgs would once again start the final frame on a 5-on-3 penalty kill after being outshot 20-3 in the second period by the Rivermen.

The third period saw the Rivermen finally capitalize on a power play, as Alec Baer made it a 4-2 game just 20 seconds after the action resumed. Roanoke kept holding on for dear life, but its advantage was trimmed to just one when Nick Neville’s blue-line shot at 15:37 went in for Peoria to make it a 4-3 game. The Dawgs kept digging in the final minutes, and DeVito made an empty-netter from his own zone with 26 seconds remaining to put Roanoke back into the President’s Cup Finals for the second consecutive season, avenging its 2022 Final loss to the Rivermen by winning the series two games-to-one.

Peoria’s Jack Berry saved 9-of-12 shots in the game before he was relieved for Eric Levine, who stopped 7-of-8 shots faced. The Dawgs went 0-for-2 on the power play, while the Rivermen were 1-for-5 on their power play chances.

Roanoke will have to await the conclusion of the Birmingham versus Huntsville series to determine its opponent in the President’s Cup Final. Single-game tickets and parking passes for Games 3 and 4 of the Final will go on sale Monday, April 24 at 10:00 A.M. both online and at the Berglund Center box office. 

The President’s Cup Final will be a best-of-five series, with Roanoke set to host Game Three and also Game Four, if necessary. Game Three will take place on Monday, May 1 at 7:05 P.M. EST, and Game Four, if necessary, will be on Tuesday, May 2 at the same time at Berglund Center. Games One, Two, and Five (if necessary) will be played on the road.

If Game Four is not necessary, tickets and parking passes will be refunded automatically to your original form of payment. If you purchased a Playoff Package, please use Game D for Game Three and Game E for Game Four. Season long parking passes and Club 611 passes will be accepted at both of these games. Bud Light Watch Parties for away games will be announced at a later date. Roanoke’s 2023 President’s Cup Playoffs run is sponsored by Haley Toyota of Roanoke.

Photo Credit: Michele Hancock // Field Pass Hockey