The Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs don’t have the luxury of worrying about who can’t play — and even who’s not allowed to coach — as their quest for a playoff spot continues.
With 12 regular-season games remaining, the suspension-ravaged Dawgs play three road games in three days this week beginning with a visit to Quad City on Friday night.
The Dawgs will be without coach Dan Bremner, captain Travis Armstrong, forward Brant Sherwood and defenseman Jake Schultz in Friday’s game. All were suspended earlier this week for their roles in an on-ice dust-up following Roanoke’s 2-1 loss to Fayetteville last Saturday.
All but Schultz — who drew a five-game suspension — will be eligible to return for Saturday night’s game at Quad City and Sunday’s contest at Peoria.
The Dawgs announced Thursday that they’d signed three players fresh out of college — defenseman Liam O’Sullivan (Saint Anselm), defenseman Henry Hearon (Trine) and forward Brady Heppner (St. John’s) — to help fortify their roster.
Assistant coach Cal Miska will lead the Dawgs (15-19-7) on Friday, when they battle a Storm team (15-19-7) that is tied with them for last place in the SPHL but has played three fewer games. Those two clubs are one point behind Birmingham and Macon, which occupy the league’s final two playoff positions.
The Storm is led by right winger Taylor Pryce, who has 14 goals and 15 assists this season. Top Quad City goaltender Peter Di Salvo owns a 2.46 goals against average and a .926 save percentage, which both rank among the top four in the league.
Quad City has the worst penalty kill in the league (80.0%) and ranks eighth in goals allowed per game (3.20). The Dawgs and Storm have not met previously this season but will face each other five times this month, including a three-game series at the Berglund Center in two weeks.
On Sunday, Roanoke faces a much more familiar opponent in Peoria (30-8-5), which is second in the SPHL standings behind Fayetteville. The Rivermen have won four of five meetings with the Dawgs this season, with the most recent a 2-1 victory in Roanoke on Feb. 22.