HUNTSVILLE, AL. – The Rail Yard Dawgs (2-2) couldn’t take advantage of their early momentum, and watched the game slip away in a 5-2 loss to the Huntsville Havoc (3-0) in Game One of the 2024 President’s Cup Semifinals on Wednesday night at the Huntsville IceSports Complex. Jacob Kelly and Tommy Munichiello scored for Roanoke. The win by Huntsville leaves the Havoc one win away from advancing to the President’s Cup Final, as the Dawgs now face elimination.

The game started at a breakneck pace, with the Dawgs registering 14 shots on goal to Huntsville’s 12 in the opening frame. Both teams got two power play chances, but Roanoke’s Josh Nenadal had potentially the best opportunity of the period on a shorthanded look from the right wing. Neither team capitalized in the opening 20 minutes, and it was still scoreless at the first intermission.

Roanoke had the momentum early in the second period, tallying nine of the first 13 shots on goal combined in the middle frame. But a smart play by the Havoc after they let the Dawgs clear their zone on a delayed offside call would spring Doug Elgstam down the right wing at 13:38, and his shot from the slot put Huntsville on the board first. After coming up empty on their first four power play chances, Huntsville’s fifth power play would give the hosts another goal just 44 seconds later. Buster Larsson’s missile from the right wing side at 14:22 made it a 2-0 lead. Huntsville had the last seven shots on goal of the frame, and took its two-goal advantage into the final frame.

Huntsville kept the momentum on its side early in the third period, and after a couple of quick saves on shots by Roanoke, the Havoc would get their offense humming again. A slip by a Dawg at his own blue line sprung Larsson on a breakaway for his second of the night at 2:31. Larsson would complete his hat trick at 5:08, when a Roanoke clearance went straight to his stick and he found the back of the net again. The Dawgs would get on the board when Kelly redirected a shot by Stephen Alvo for a power play goal that made it 4-1 at 9:47, but another turnover by the Dawgs in their own end left Larsson all alone in front of the Roanoke net at 12:40, and his fourth goal of the night made it a 5-1 lead for Huntsville. That also prompted the Dawgs to pull goaltender Austyn Roudebush for Tyler Roy. Munichiello’s rebound finish off of Kelly’s initial shot would make it 5-2 at 17:24, but the three-goal loss means Roanoke will once again have its backs against the wall in Game Two as the Dawgs face elimination.

Roudebush stopped 26-of-31 shots faced, while Roy saved all four shots that he faced in relief for Roanoke. Mike Robinson saved 31-of-33 shots faced in net for Huntsville. Both teams went 1-for-5 on the power play.

Roanoke will host the Huntsville Havoc for Game Two on Friday, April 19, at 7:05 P.M. EST at Berglund Center. Game Three, if necessary, will take place on Saturday, April 20, at 7:05 P.M. EST at Berglund Center. Single-game playoff tickets are on sale now, and can be purchased online or by visiting the Berglund Center box office. Other season ticket packages and group tickets are on sale now by contacting the Rail Yard Dawgs office. Roanoke’s President’s Cup Playoffs run is sponsored by Haley Toyota.

Photo Credit: Weslie Rouse