Fast start, dodge an opponent’s comeback, strong finish.
That was the route the surging Roanoke Rail Yard Dawg ice hockey team took Saturday night in Huntsville, Alabama to get out of town with a split of the two-game weekend set against the first place Havoc with the 5-3 victory.
The win gave the Dawgs two tough points from a win over the Huntsville team that has only lost six times in regulation all season, a third of those coming at the hands of Roanoke.
Roanoke was looking to avoid a Havoc sweep on Saturday after losing a tough 3-2 setback the previous night at Propst Arena.
Roanoke came out of the gate on fire in the opening period. Vojtech Zemlicka got things going at the 2:49 mark of the first, just 15 seconds after Dawg Chris Vella and Havoc rumbler Robbie Fisher dropped the gloves for the first altercation of the evening.
C.J. Stubbs followed at the 15:10 mark of the first on a one-timer for a 2-0 Dawg lead and Billy Vizzo found the twine just 43 seconds later to send many of the stunned Havoc faithful to the beer stations with Roanoke leading 3-0 after the first 20 minutes.
Huntsville roared back to start the second period, scoring three goals in a span of 3 minutes and 18 seconds to knot things at 3, before Mac Jansen scored on a Roanoke breakaway with 2:59 left in the period to send the Dawgs to the second intermission up 4-3.
Roanoke’s defense tightened up in the third, allowing just 4 shots on goal and Vella going toe-to-toe with Havoc Tory McLean in another scuffle. After Huntsville pulled goalie Zane Steeves for an extra skater, Stubbs finished the deal for Roanoke with an empty netter with 1:03 left.
Roanoke netminder Austyn Roudebush picked up the win in the pipes, making 26 saves on 29 shots.
Roanoke improved to 15-7-2-4, good for sixth place in the SPHL. Huntsville fell to 25-6-1-1, good for 52 points and a one-point lead over second-place Knoxville, with Knoxville having three games in hand on the Havoc.
Roanoke returns to action this Thursday night at the Berglund Center against the Macon Mayhem which will be looking to recover from a 13-4 pummeling by the Pensacola Ice Flyers Saturday night. Puck drop on the Berglund pond is set for 7:05PM.