Columbus Sinks Fangs Into Rail Yard Dawgs Playoff Hopes

Rail Yard Dawgs center Steve Mele carries the puck into the offensive zone Saturday night against the Columbus Cottonmouths. Columbus prevailed 4-3 in OT in the battle for the final SPHL playoff spot.

The weekend series between the Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs and visiting Columbus Cottonmouths had all the makings of two teams battling for the final playoff spot in the Southern Professional Hockey League.

Two straight nights on the home pond with Roanoke having the opportunity to put plenty of pressure on the snakes with four points there for the taking.
Saturday night at the Berglund Center before an announced crowd of 3,799, the Cottonmouths put their fangs deep into Roanoke’s playoff hopes, rebounding from a 2-1 deficit after two periods to pull out the 4-3 overtime win.
The win followed the Cottonmouth’s 6-3 win on Friday night that saw Columbus race out to a two goal advantage, watch Roanoke close to within one at 2-1 late in the second period and 3-2 just under two minutes into the third period, before punching in three straight goals to secure the opener.
Saturday night had Roanoke taking a 2-1 lead to the second intermission on goals by Phil Bronner and Dmytro Babenko in a game that looked as is if Columbus was satisfied to return home with a split of the weekend series. But, the snakes came out hissing in the third, scoring two straight goals on a wrist shot by Scott Milnthorp and a laser by Keegan Bruce that beat Roanoke goalie James Kruger. Down 3-2, Roanoke responded on a Vinny Llorca slap shot that found the twine behind Columbus net minder Mavric Parks, Llorca’s first professional goal that was enough to force overtime.
But, Columbus got a 2-on-1 rush early in OT , and the snake’s Chad Brears netted the game-winner that provided Columbus a sweep of the series and four points for the weekend.
The two weekend wins left Columbus 4 points ahead of Roanoke with one game at hand on the Dawgs. Roanoke closes the regular season with four of its last five games on the road, including three against first-place Macon. Columbus has six games remaining, including three against last-place Evansville. Roanoke’s final regular season home game is against these same Cottonmouths on April 4th.
Bill Turner