Long night, short day, no problem for the Roanoke Rail Yard Dogs.
A hot goal keeper tends to make life easier for an entire team. Austyn Roudebush did his duty Friday night to support a weary, banged-up and short-handed team.
Stopping 29 shots and surviving more than a minute of extra-skater assault in the closing minute, Roudebush had a terrific night between the Berglund Center pipes in leading the Dawgs to a 1-0 thriller of a win over the Pensacola Ice Flyers.
It was the third victory in a row for Roanoke (12-16), which took a redeye bus ride from Huntsville, Alabama, Thursday, arriving home at 6:30 a.m. Friday. A stout defense in front of Roudebush contributing heavily, the win streak matched the season high.
The one-goal lead stood for two periods plus. It was the second shutout in the last five games along with a 2-0 victory Jan. 19 against Macon. Henry Dill was in goal for that one.
“Roudebush played really well tonight,” Dawgs coach Dan Bremner said.
The goalie had to be sharp because Roanoke was inconsistent offensively.
“I thought we had a pretty good first, a very poor second, then we battled in the third,” Bremner said.
The home team was at its best all around in the opening period.
Missed opportunities including an 0-for-3 power play notwithstanding, Roanoke dominated first period proceedings. Much of the action took place at the Ice Flyers end of the ice with the Dawgs peppering Pensacola goal keeper Jake Kupsky with 11 shots, more than double the guests’ total.
Out front on the barrage was Marcus Ortiz, making his Dawgs home debut after being traded from Macon for Colton Wolter Jan. 21. Ortiz had a three-pack of shots during the period, but his most important touch came with 11:15 gone.
Ortiz and Jeff Jones were all but mashed up in Kupsky’s pads when a firm tap off Jones’ stick slid past the red line and into the net. Ortiz and Matt O’Dea were credited with assists.
When it came to pressing the attack in the second, the Dawgs experienced a complete reversal of fortunes from their foot-on-the-gas initial period. Pensacola fired away to no avail, but the pressure was relentless with a 14-4 mismatch in shots.
One constant for Roanoke from the previous period was continued ill fortune on the power play, the frustration growing to 0-for-6.
The closing period was a back-and-forth tussle, with the action predictably frantic at the Dawgs end as the clock ticked down.
“We had a couple of call-ups and had some guys banged up from last night,” Bremner said. “We don’t like to make excuses, but the guys who were on the ice tonight really battled and found a way.”
NOTES: The puck drop for the second half of the Friday-Saturday twinbill with Pensacola is Saturday at 7:05 at the Berglund Center. Added entertainment will be carried by the four short legs of the contestants in the Weiner Dog race. … Chris Lijdsman was called up to Jacksonville on Thursday and Lincoln Griffin left for Greenville, also in the ECHL, Friday. … This will conclude the Roanoke-Pensacola series for the season., the first three meetings were on Pensacola ice … The series stands 2-1-1 in the Dawgs’ favor. … The Ice Flyers may have had fresher legs than expected Friday after a peculiar visit to Macon Thursday night. An apparently extra-violent first period collision resulted in busted boards and what was described as “ice issues” that prompted a game suspension. A later makeup date was promised to disappointed patrons.