ROANOKE, Va. – The Rail Yard Dawgs announced on Friday that the team has signed forward Brandon Picard and activated defenseman Alex Norwinski off of the injured reserve list. Additionally, forward Nick Ford has been placed on team suspension after signing a contract with a team in Poland.

“Losing Nick Ford is really tough,” said Roanoke head coach Dan Bremner. “He’s been a big part of what we’ve accomplished the past couple years, but we’re happy he’s able to pursue his dream of hockey overseas. We wish him the best of luck. I’m excited to see who in our group will step up and help fill the void left behind.”

Ford departs Roanoke as he’s set to join JKH GKS Jastrzebie in the top Polish division. The assistant captain was in the midst of his third season with the Dawgs, leading the team with 29 points and 21 assists, in addition to registering eight goals and a plus-nine rating, and will now have his SPHL rights protected by Roanoke via the team suspension. Last season, the Elmira College product appeared in all 56 regular season games for the Rail Yard Dawgs, notching a team-best 54 points thanks to his 16 goals and single-season franchise record of 38 assists. Ford then added three goals and seven assists during the Rail Yard Dawgs President’s Cup Championship run. The six-foot-one forward had 28 points in 27 regular season games for Roanoke, plus seven goals and five assists during the President’s Cup Playoffs during the 2021-2022 season. Ford had recently become the fastest player in franchise history to reach 100 points, doing it within his first 100 games as a Dawg.

Norwinski joined the Dawgs this season after playing five seasons at Liberty University (ACHA) and appeared in two games for Roanoke in November, notching his first professional assist in Roanoke’s 3-2 overtime win against Macon on November 11 before being placed on the injured reserve list. The Blue Ridge native played in 117 combined games for Liberty’s ACHA teams, finishing his career with 34 goals, 56 assists, and 57 penalty minutes for the Flames.

Picard is in his rookie professional season, earning his first SPHL call-up after tallying 13 goals, 10 assists, 10 penalty minutes, and a minus-five rating in 24 games this season with the FPHL’s Port Huron Prowlers. The Montreal native previously played four years of college hockey, starting at Concordia University (NCAA-DIII) his first two seasons, then transferring to Castleton University (NCAA-DIII) for his final two seasons. In 93 combined collegiate games, the five-foot-eleven forward notched 28 goals, 21 assists, and 42 penalty minutes. Picard played two seasons of junior hockey, with stints in the QJHL, BCHL, MJHL, and the USPHL Premier.

The Rail Yard Dawgs will visit the Pensacola Ice Flyers on Friday night, January 12 at 8:00 P.M. EST at the Pensacola Bay Center, and you can watch the game on Flo or listen in on Mixlr. Roanoke will also be hosting a Bud Light Watch Party at 107 Pollard South in Vinton on Friday’s game. Single game tickets for home games are on sale now at Berglund Center box office and online. Group tickets and other ticket packages are on sale now by contacting the Dawgs’ front office. 

Photo Credit: Bryar Turner (Norwinski) // Delta Imaging (Picard)

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