Long bus trips, altered routines and playing in front of a hostile crowd.
Roanoke found those just to their liking last Friday night. It was far from a rainy night in Georgia. It was also a chance to bring the team together, away from the pressure of playing at home.
The Rail Yard Dawgs picked up their first win of the season against the Macon Mayhem, as Mike Moroso scored 1:56 into overtime for the 5-4 win. The victory evened the Dawgs record at 1-1 in the early part of the Southern Professional Hockey League season.
It was a seesaw affair all evening in Macon, where the Mayhem were likewise looking for their first win of the season. Things got off to a bad start for the Dawgs when Macon winger Jake Trask found the net only 54 seconds into the game. Roanoke answered in the final minute on a goal by Evan Shultz that sent the teams to the first intermission tied at 1.
The teams traded goals to start the second period before Mayhem winger Ryan Salkeld scored to put Macon up 3-2. Roanoke rebounded in style, scoring a pair of goals in the late stages of the second by Phil Bronner and Steve Mele that sent the teams to the final 20 minutes with Roanoke up 4-3.
Macon tied the game at 4 just four minutes into the final frame, but Dawg goalie Ryan de Melo closed the pipes on Mayhem the rest of the way despite numerous quality Macon shots. de Melo had a busy night, recording 42 saves.
It was a solid rebound effort for the Dawgs, who saw the Fayetteville Marksmen come back from a 3-1 deficit a week earlier to knock off Roanoke 4-3 in the season opener. That game was played before an energetic crowd announced at 4,068 in the Berglund Center. The three Dawg goals in the opener came from Travis Armstrong and a pair by Riley Spraggs.
The stage is now set for Roanoke to make their move in the standings. The Dawgs play seven straight home games in the Berglund Center beginning with a pair this Friday and Saturday (November 3-4) against the Evansville Thunderbolts. Mississippi comes to town for back-to-back games on Friday and Saturday, November 10-11, Macon visits Thursday, November 16, with Knoxville the opponent Saturday, November 18 and Fayetteville playing the role of the bad guys on Thanksgiving night, November 23rd. The puck drops at 7:05 for all games.