Rail Yard Dawgs Lock In At Eighth Place; Await Opening Playoff Opponent

The Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs have locked in the eighth seed and final playoff spot for the upcoming Southern Professional Hockey League playoffs that begin next week. The top eight teams in the 11-team league qualify for a three-round, best-of-three-games playoff format throughout the three rounds that culminate with the final two survivors banging heads for the President’s Cup Championship Trophy.

The playoff format dictates the Number-1 seed taking on the Number-8 seed, Number-2 vs. Number-7, Number-3 seed vs Number-6 and Number-4 seed taking on Number-5 in the opening round games. The four winners in the opening round will be paired in the second round based on  their original seed, with the higher seed taking on the lower, and the remaining two facing each other in the second game.

Roanoke’s slim chance to move past Evansville into seventh place evaporated Thursday night when the Thunderbolts rolled past last-place Vermillion County 7-4 to secure a four-point lead over Roanoke heading into the weekend’s final two games. Even if Roanoke wins its final two in Fayetteville to earn 4 points, Evansville holds the first tiebreaker with the Dawgs by having the larger number of regular-season wins.

Roanoke’s opening round playoff opponent with be the top finisher in the regular season. Heading into the weekend’s final two games, Knoxville (84 points). Peoria (81 points) and Huntsville (80 points) all have a mathematical chance of finishing first.

Knoxville has a home and away set with Evansville, Peoria finishes with a home game against Quad City before a Saturday night season finale at Vermillion County, and Huntsville plays a pair at Birmingham. Knoxville only needs a win in either of their final two games or get either of the final two to overtime or a shootout to secure the SPHL regular season title.

Bill Turner

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