PELHAM, AL. – The Rail Yard Dawgs (5-1) took their first lead late in the game and held on, beating the Birmingham Bulls (4-3) in a 4-2 win at Pelham Civic Complex on Thursday night. Stephen Alvo, Jason Lavallée, Nick Ford, and Matt O’Dea Sargis each scored for Roanoke, while Austyn Roudebush saved 25-of-27 shots that he faced.

The first period began with a quick lead for the hosts, as Birmingham turned a Roanoke turnover down into the game’s first goal just 29 seconds in thanks to a Jake Pappalardo snipe. The Dawgs bounced back quickly, as Alvo, a former Birmingham defenseman, tied the score at 1-1 at 4:32 on a blue-line blast assisted by Alex DiCarlo. Things were pretty quiet, until a delayed penalty late in the period was set to put Roanoke on the power play. When play was stopped to enforce the Birmingham penalty, Dom Marcinkevics made contact with a Bull, and was given a five-minute major for spearing and a game misconduct. After the four-on-four action concluded, the Dawgs ended the period on the penalty kill, but the game stayed tied entering the first intermission.

Roanoke remained on the major penalty kill to start the second period, and the Bulls took the lead back at 1:23 on a one-timer by Scott Donahue. The Dawgs got a power play of their own a few minutes later, and a missile from the left wing circle by Lavallée tied the score back at 2-2 at 6:10. Roanoke had two more power play chances in the frame, but Birmingham held strong and kept the game tied at the end of 40 minutes, despite the Dawgs outshooting the Bulls 18-12 in the first two frames.

The third period started strong for the Dawgs, as a Nick DeVito shot was blocked right to Ford, who gave Roanoke its first lead of the night at the 2:57 mark of the frame. Another five-minute major against Roanoke, this time against Alvo, put the Dawgs down a defenseman. Fortunately, Donahue was whistled for roughing as well for the Bulls, so the game resumed in 4-on-4 action for two minutes before the Bulls would have a three-minute major power play. O’Dea took just 20 seconds after the penalties to rifle a shot from the left wing into the net, giving the Dawgs a 4-2 lead at 5:16 that would prove to prevail. Roanoke had to kill off a few more penalties, but withstood the Birmingham offense that outshot the Dawgs 15-5 in the final period. Roanoke took Game One, and the Dawgs now need just two more wins to secure the best-of-five series.

Birmingham’s Hayden Stewart saved 19-of-23 shots in the game in the loss. The Dawgs went 1-for-3 on the power play, while the Bulls were 1-for-4 on their power play chances.

Roanoke will stay on the road for Game Two on Friday night, April 28, at 8:00 p.m. EST against the Birmingham Bulls at Pelham Civic Complex. Roanoke will 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. Single-game tickets and parking passes for Games 3 and 4 of the Final are on sale now both online and at the Berglund Center box office. Game Five, if necessary, will be on Thursday, May 4 at 8:00 P.M. EST at Pelham Civic Complex.

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. Roanoke’s 2023 President’s Cup Playoffs run is sponsored by Haley Toyota of Roanoke.

Photo Credit: Bryar Turner