Jake Theut continues to add new chapters to his remarkable comeback story.
After making 33 saves against high-powered Fayetteville in regulation and overtime, Theut stopped four more shots in the shootout as the Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs defeated the Marksmen 2-1 (2-1) on Saturday in front of an announced crowd of 3,003 at the Berglund Center.
Cut twice by Roanoke earlier in the season, Theut has earned three victories in December. The Dawgs (5-11-3) have gone 3-1-1 this month after posting a 1-8-1 record in November that dropped them into last place in the SPHL.
The Dawgs had a challenging turnaround Saturday, having lost to a shootout at Macon on Friday night before traveling back home overnight to face a Fayetteville team on full rest. Roanoke’s offense was sluggish at times — the Dawgs didn’t put a single shot on goal in the opening nine minutes of the game — but Theut and the defensemen compensated.
Captain Travis Armstrong and forward Mac Jansen scored in the shootout for Roanoke. Brian Bowen was the only player to sneak one past Theut for the Marksmen (11-3-4), who lost for just the second time in seven meetings with Roanoke this season.
Theut clinched it when he kicked away Max Cook’s attempt on the final shot of the shootout. He also stonewalled attempts from Frankie Melton, Alec Marsh and Brett Johnson.
Roanoke put only one shot on goal in the overtime period despite spending the first 1:28 of it on the power play. Some fans expressed their displeasure with the Dawgs’ pass-heavy approach with the extra skater, as Fayetteville goaltender Ryland Pashovitz was hardly tested in the extra stanza.
Neither team scored in the third period, either, as Roanoke and Fayetteville combined to go 0-for-8 on the power play overall.
The Dawgs improved to 5-5-2 this season with scoring first (they’re 0-6-1 when they don’t). Brandon Wahlin put Roanoke on the board with 4:19 remaining in the first period on a shorthanded attack, whipping a wrister past Pashovitz from the right circle on an assist from Colton Wolter.
It was the first goal in a Roanoke uniform for Wahlin, a 27-year-old forward in his fourth professional season.
Fayetteville tied it with 7:46 left in the second period, when Frankie Melton accepted a pass on the doorstep and stuffed it in past the powerless Theut.
The Dawgs regained the services of forward Brant Sherwood, whose indefinite team suspension was lifted earlier in the day. He’d been suspended on Nov. 5 for a violation of team rules and code of conduct policy after notching a team-high three goals and three assists in the season’s first six games.
But this game was largely about Roanoke’s defense and Theut, who shut down the league’s No. 3 scoring offense. Fayetteville entered the game averaging 3.53 goals per game and had netted at least four goals in each of their five victories over Roanoke.
Pashovitz was nearly as impressive in goal for Fayetteville, making 30 saves on 31 shots. His most crucial stop came with 2:45 remaining in regulation, when Wolter stole the puck in the offensive zone and fired a shot from close range.
The Dawgs play next Friday and Saturday at league-leading Peoria before returning home to face the Marksmen again on New Year’s Eve.
Fayetteville 0 1 0 0 0 — 1
Roanoke 1 0 0 0 1 — 2
First period — 1. Roanoke, Wahlin 1 (short handed) (Wolter) 15:41. Penalties — ROA Armstrong (roughing) 4:06, FAY Pigozzi (tripping) 13:33, ROA Jansen (interference) 14:46, FAY Cook (high sticking) 19:53.
Second period — 2. Fayetteville, Melton 6 (Cook, Bowen) 12:14. Penalties — FAY Bednard (tripping) 13:58, ROA Sherwood (elbowing) 19:35, ROA Sherwood (roughing) 19:35, FAY Cook (roughing) 19:35.
Third period — Scoring — none. Penalties — FAY Hayes (cross checking) 4:56, FAY LeSage (high sticking) 19:27, FAY LeSage (10-min. misconduct — verbal abuse of official) 19:27.
Overtime — Scoring — none. Penalties — none.
Shootout — 3. Roanoke, Jansen 5.
Shots on goal — Fayetteville 10-9-13-2-0-0—34; Roanoke 9-9-12-1-1—32.
Power play opportunities — Fayetteville 0 of 3; Roanoke 0 of 5.
Goalies — Fayetteville, Pashovitz (31 shots — 30 saves); Roanoke, Theut (34-33).
Referee — Logan Gruhl. Linesmen — Joseph Johnson, Thomas Parynik.
A — 3,003.