Everything was in place for an opening night celebration.
An energetic hockey crowd announced at 4,068 inside the Berglund Center. A Rail Yard Dawg rally that saw the home team rebound from an early 1-0 deficit to score three straight goals to go up 3-1 midway through the second period. Four former players from the great Rebel teams of the 60s and 70s, including Claude Piche and Pierre Paiement from the unmatched 73-74 Southern Hockey League championship team..
Unfortunately for the Dawgs, the Fayetteville Marksmen started hitting the bull’s eye, scoring the game’s final three goals, including the Kyle McNeil decider with 4:02 left that was deflected past Roanoke goalie Ryan de Melo off a sharp angle shot.
Roanoke, pulling de Melo for an extra skater in the final two minutes, couldn’t come up with the equalizer.
Fayetteville wasted no time finding the net in the opening period. Swarming the Roanoke zone, the Marksmen found the twine for the first score only 3:16 into the game.
Roanoke answered less than two minutes later when Riley Spraggs sent a rebound home to knot things at one. The Dawgs went up 2-1 at the 14:14 mark as Travis Armstrong scored on a writer from between the circles right after Roanoke had killed off a Fayetteville power play.
The Dawgs missed a golden opportunity to expand their lead late in the first when they couldn’t take advantage of a 5-on-3 power play, leaving the home team up by a goal after one period.
Things were looking good for Roanoke when Spraggs scored at the 9:42 mark of the second, putting the Dawgs up 3-1. But, it would be the last Dawg score of the night as Fayetteville pulled to within 3-2 at 10:52 on a Max Cook dying quail, and tied the game at 3 late in the second.
It sent the home fans home a little disappointed, but many, especially the younger fans, were looking forward to returning for what will hopefully be an exciting season.
“The games are fun to go to,” 16-year-old Adriyanna Dixon said while sitting in the box seats with her family. “I like to see a lot of goals and some fights, too.”
Dixon got her wish on the fight front with just over six minutes left in the second period when Roanoke’s Christopher Kravtchouk and Marksmen Brad Drobot put on a slugfest near the Marksmen blue line.
Roanoke will have to wait a while before seeing that first home victory. The Dawgs only remaining October game is on the road at Macon next Friday, before Roanoke returns to the Berglund Center for seven straight home dates between November 3rd and the 23rd, Thanksgiving night.