The Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs have been treating every game with playoff-style intensity for about a month now. If there’s another gear they can find for the regular season’s final eight weeks, now would be the time to shift into it.
On the outside of the postseason field if the playoffs were to start today, the Dawgs (12-19-5) play three critical road games this week beginning with Friday night’s visit to Knoxville. Roanoke will face the Ice Bears again on Saturday before traveling to Huntsville for a Sunday evening matchup.
Knoxville (22-15-4) and Huntsville (22-12-3) are both in the top half of the SPHL standings. The Dawgs sit in ninth place, three points back of Birmingham, which holds the eighth and final playoff spot in the 10-team league.
Roanoke is coming off a disappointing weekend in which it lost to Knoxville 3-1 and Macon 4-3 at the Berglund Center. Exacerbating the frustration was that many of the players had relatives on hand to celebrate the team’s annual Family Weekend.
Knoxville has won five of seven meetings this season with Roanoke, with the Dawgs’ lone road win in the series coming on Nov. 29. The Ice Bears are led by center Scott Cuthrell, who ranks fourth in the league in assists (27) and fifth in points (40). He’s got five goals and three assists against Roanoke this season.
Huntsville is 3-1 against the Dawgs this season, but Roanoke got a 2-1 victory in Alabama in the most recent meeting on Jan. 30. The Havoc is led by Rob Darrar (14 goals, 22 assists) and Shawn Bates(10 goals, 26 assists). Huntsville goalie Max Milosek is the league’s co-leader with 18 wins and ranks second in the circuit with a 2.07 goals against average.
Roanoke will be holding a watch party for Sunday’s game at 202 Social House beginning at 5 p.m., with puck drop slated for 6 p.m.
The Dawgs announced this week that they will be without defenseman Dallas Rossiter, who’s been called up to the ECHL’s Maine Mariners. Rossiter has appeared in 31 of Roanoke’s 36 games, notching three assists and 44 penalty minutes.
After this road trip, the Dawgs will return home next week for three games against SPHL co-leader Peoria.