ROANOKE, Va. – The Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs have announced the team’s protected list for the upcoming 2023-2024 season.
The SPHL allows each team to protect 13 players who finished the previous season on their roster. Players claimed on protected lists are only able to sign tryout agreements with the SPHL team that has protected them.
“In a year without an expansion team coming in, protected lists can end up looking very different,” said Rail Yard Dawgs head coach Dan Bremner. “We have exit meetings with all of our guys. We try to get a feel for what their future in hockey looks like.”
“This year, even more than years past, there was a common theme from these guys of wanting to come back to Roanoke and continue to build on this year’s success.”
Six forwards made Roanoke’s protected list, headlined by top producers Nick Ford and CJ Stubbs. Ford led Roanoke in points with 54 in the regular season, and was second in the SPHL during the President’s Cup Playoffs with 10 points (only trailing Roanoke’s Nick DeVito, his linemate). Stubbs recorded 46 points in 47 regular season games, added six more points in the postseason, and ended the year as Roanoke’s all-time career assists leader with 87 in his Dawgs career. Billy Vizzo notched the game-winning overtime goal in Game Three of the President’s Cup Final against Birmingham, notched the primary assist on Mac Jansen’s title-winning goal in overtime of Game Four in the Final, and finished the regular season with 39 points in 45 games. Rookie Dom Marcinkevics quickly earned a reputation as one of the league’s fastest skaters, and his 32 points and plus-12 rating were enough for an impressive debut season in the pros. Late season additions Alex DiCarlo and Jason Lavallée were major producers for the Dawgs, as DiCarlo provided nine points in 18 combined regular season and postseason games, while Lavallée finished with four points in his eight appearances during the President’s Cup Playoffs.
Roanoke will return six defensemen as well, led by alternate captain Matt O’Dea, who ranks among the top ten in franchise history for every major skater record after another great season. Sean Leonard finished the season in the ECHL, but his 22 points, 206 penalty minutes, and plus-12 rating in 50 total Dawgs games (2021-23) are proof of his versatility both as a producer and an enforcer on the blue line. C.J. Valerian and Jarrad Vroman made huge jumps in their first full professional seasons after joining the Dawgs in the spring of 2022 – Valerian’s plus-22 rating led all SPHL rookies and Roanoke overall to go along with his 22 points, while Vroman rattled off 18 points, a plus-15 rating, plus an additional three assists in the postseason. Brendan Pepe’s growth over the season into a shutdown defenseman was a huge key to Roanoke’s run to winning the league championship, while rookie John Stampohar also bloomed under the bright lights of postseason hockey along the blue line for Roanoke.
The Dawgs also protected goaltender Austyn Roudebush, who ranks as easily the best goaltender in franchise history. His 7-2 record with a .925 save percentage and a 2.18 goals against average in the postseason were good enough to earn him the President’s Cup Playoffs MVP award. In the regular season, Roudebush led the league in games played (42), minutes played (2313), and wins (24), while also ranking third in the SPHL for goals against average (2.52) and earning December Player of the Month honors after manning the net for the entirety of Roanoke’s franchise record nine-game winning streak.
“We have a really strong core group of players, both on and off of this protected list, that are committed to playing here in the fall in front of this passionate fanbase,” Bremner said. “We’re really excited to get to work with that group once training camp arrives.”
The Rail Yard Dawgs full protected list is below:
While Bremner expects that big decisions await a few of the players left off of the protected list regarding their futures as players in the sport, fans can breathe a sigh of relief when it comes to the status of two of Roanoke’s leaders – captain Mac Jansen and alternate captain Josh Nenadal. Those two are both expected to return next season for the Rail Yard Dawgs. Rookie forwards Spencer Kennedy and Jordan Xavier have also expressed their intent to come back to Roanoke when the 2023-2024 season begins.
The Rail Yard Dawgs are open during the summer at their offices at Berglund Center from Monday through Thursday from 10:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. and Friday 10:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M. Merchandise pick-up and shopping will be available during normal business hours both during the summer and the season, and you can contact Andrew and Warren for more information about 2023-2024 season tickets.
Photo Credit: Keith Lucas