The Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs have released their 2018-2019 ice hockey schedule, and fans can plan on plenty of home-and-home matchups with common rivals, along with a long absence from the home ice Berglund Center late in the 56-game regular season campaign.
Roanoke will open on the road in Fayetteville, NC against the Fayetteville Marksmen on Friday, October 19th at 7:00 PM, which will serve as the first game of the Southern Professional Hockey League season league-wide.
Roanoke’s first home game on the Berglund pond takes place the following night, October 20th, when Knoxville makes the visit to the Star City. Roanoke’s home games will all start at 7:05 PM this season, with the exception of a 6:05 PM start on New Year’s Eve and a rare 1:05 PM puck drop scheduled for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Roanoke fans can expect to see some familiar faces along the way, with the Dawgs taking on Fayetteville 13 times this season, with 8 games each against both the Knoxville Ice Bears and Macon Mayhem.
There has also been a slight shakeup in the 10-team SPHL which long-time fans will notice. The Mississippi River Kings, a popular opponent last season, ceased operations in May and have been replaced by the Quad City Storm, playing out of Moline, Illinois near the border with Iowa. Ironically, Quad City doesn’t play in Roanoke during the regular season, but Roanoke has a three-game set in Moline from February 26 through March 2.
Get the bus ready for several home-and-home matchups on Friday-Saturday nights. It begins November 23rd when Roanoke travels to Huntsville, AL only to return to Roanoke the following night for a Huntsville rematch. A repeat occurs December 21-22 with Fayetteville, January 4-5 with Macon, January 11-12 with the first game being in Roanoke and the second night in Fayetteville, and the same setup the following weekend against the Marksmen.
After two games in as many nights at Birmingham, AL on January 25-26, the Dawgs will return home for three straight two-game weekends of hockey against the same opponent. Evanville comes to town for a pair on February 1-2, the Birmingham Bulls follow suit on February 8-9, and Huntsville slips onto the Berglund pond for a pair on February 15-16.
If absence makes the heart grow fonder, hockey fans will be ready for love as the Dawgs hit the road for eleven straight road games that span from February 17th through March 16th. That grueling slate of games includes a one game trip to Knoxville, three games in as many nights in Peoria. three straight at Quad City and two against both Pensacola and Evansville.
Roanoke returns home for its final home stretch of 4 games, Knoxville at Roanoke March 22, Fayetteville in the Berglund Center the next night and a pair at home March 29-30 against Pensacola. The Dawgs finish the regular season with a pair on the road at Birmingham April 5-6.
The Dawgs enter their third season in the SPHL with a lot of positive momentum, including on the ice, with the fan base and in the front office. Attendance grew last year and continued at a pace of over 3,300 per game.
Dan Bremner was given a contract extension that will now run through the completion of the 2019-2020 season. Bremner was hired to coach the Rail Yard Dawgs on December 18, 2017 after a tumultuous start to the 17-18 campaign, and proved to be extremely successful in turning Roanoke’s season around. In 38 games as head coach he guided the Dawgs to a 21-15-2 record and the first playoff appearance in franchise history.
That turnaround was highlighted by an eight-game winning streak, which was the longest winning streak in the SPHL during the 2017-18 season.
“I’m very pleased to have Dan secured for another two years,” Mickey Gray, who was recently promoted to the position of team President, noted. “He did a fantastic job in his first year and I am extremely confident in his abilities to lead this team in the right direction on the ice.”
“It didn’t take long for Dan to earn the respect of our players and fans after he took the reins last season,” Rail Yard Dawgs principal owner Bob McGinn said. “He has earned his contract extension and I am looking forward to watching the Dawgs go to the next level under his command.”
“I’m extremely excited and grateful for the vote of confidence from Mickey and the owners,” Bremner commented. “The support from the fans and the community was incredible this past season and will be huge in helping us build something special in the Roanoke Valley.”