The Rail Yard Dawgs did not just want this game, they needed this game.
Unfortunately for the Roanoke squad, it did not get it. The Macon Mayhem defeated the Dawgs 4-3 in front of 5,468 fans at Berglund Center on Saturday.
Roanoke entered the game in ninth place, just three points ahead of last-place Macon. This was the chance to push the Mayhem farther into the cellar. Instead, Macon is now just a point behind the Dawgs.
“I’m at a loss for words right now,” said coach Dan Bremner. “I think we played hard, but we played stupid.”
Bremner said the offense, averaging just 1.3 goals per game in the last 10 contests, was good enough to win on Saturday.
“It’s more the goals against that I’m worried about. We’re doing things to create offense. The chances are there,” he said.
The Dawgs recorded 37 shots on goal, which don’t count the shots that flew just outside the posts — and there were plenty of those.
The game was tied 2-2 at the start of the third period when, on the first Mayhem possession, Caleb Cameron got behind the Roanoke defense and snapped a wrister that went through the 5-hole of goalie Austyn Roudebush. Bremner placed that squarely on the players who let Cameron beat them up the ice.
“The third [period begins] and we had all the makings to come out with a win. We just let them beat us all the way down the ice,” Bremner said. “Guys just not doing their jobs.”
Just over a minute later Ben Campbell beat Roudebush for the fourth Mayhem goal. Henry Dill went the rest of the way in the Roanoke goal.
The Dawgs pulled to within one goal on a late tally by defenseman Travis Armstrong, who was moved forward in an effort to ratchet up the offensive pressure.
“They put me in front for the last few minutes,” Armstrong said. “Nate O’Brien did a hell of a job getting the puck through, it hit [Jeff Jones] behind the net and just popped out and I did the rest.”
Armstrong was a force, marking his fourth goal of the season to go with nine penalty minutes, five of which came because of a first-period fight with former Dawgs player Vojtech Zemlicka. Armstrong and Macon’s Zach Urban were after each other throughout the game.
“I was initiating some of it. Not all of it, but I was playing a physical game. We are kind of in a slump right now so we have to do more than just try to put up points. I feel like it will kind of get the boys going in the right direction,” Armstrong said.
Jones scored the first goal of the game just 3:33 into the first period on the game’s first power play.
Macon tied the game with it’s own power-play goal in the waning seconds of the period. The Mayhem took the lead at 17:50 of the second, but Matt Beer tied it again just 22 seconds later.
Brant Sherwood took the puck off the left dasher and sent the puck to Beer who was charging alone up the left slot. Beer’s first shot went off goalie Mike Stiliadis, but Beer knocked home the rebound for his first goal of the season.
“It went off his leg and I got a lucky bounce,” Beer said.
The season series with Macon is now over. Roanoke finished with a 2-2-1 record against the Mayhem.