The Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs faced off against the Huntsville Havoc at the Roto-Rooster Ice Arena this Friday. These two teams have been evenly matched throughout the past five years. Each has had 10 victories and 10 losses over that time period, and that trend stands on a micro level. This season, the Havoc have one more victory than the Dawgs, but it could easily change going into tonight’s game. Huntsville has three advantages: more top-20 players, the home field, and the best goalie in the league overall. Roanoke is no slouch, though, with the second-greatest qualified^1 goalie and the most recent victory. Going into it, this game looked like it could go either way.
Photo Cred: Von Braun Center
The first period demonstrated why the two teams were evenly matched. The puck was traded back and forth between the two teams, each taking several shots at the respective goals. Their defenses proved to be too much, though: 15 minutes into the period, only five shots each had been made on the goal. With 5:08 left on the clock, Rail Yard Dawg #43 Roshen Jaswal scored the first point of the game. The Havoc soon had a penalty, putting them on the penalty kill, but they avoided giving away any more points. At 1:43, Roanoke experienced a penalty of their own, evening the teams out. This led to Huntsville gaining a power play as their penalty ended, extending into the next period.
Photo Cred: hockey DB (Jaswal)
The first five minutes of the second period were slow, with both teams passing the puck around back and forth. The Dawgs suddenly found a weakness in the Havoc defense, quickly scoring two goals within 34 seconds. This brought the score to 3-0 in Roanoke’s favor, putting Huntsville in dire straits. The Havoc desperately tried to score a goal but found themselves stymied at every turn… Frustrations mounted and a fight broke out, landing a player on each side in the penalty box. The remainder of the period was calmer, as the Rail Yard Dawgs played defensively, denying Huntsville any points.
Photo Cred: YouTube- Huntsville Havoc
The opening of the third period was reminiscent of the first, with both teams just trading shots but not being able to score. The Dawgs put in a strong effort to gain a fourth point, but the Havoc defense had recovered their strength. Seven minutes in, both teams began to rapidly switch up their players to make sure they had fresh legs. Roanoke continued to try and push their advantage, and the Huntsville defense began to falter. Only the excellent goalkeeping of Max Milosek was preventing the gap from getting wider.
Photo Creds: (L) Huntsville Havoc (Milosek), (R) Elite Prospects (Marcinkevics)
This state of affairs continued throughout the third period, with the Havoc finding themselves unable to score any points at all. With five minutes left on the clock, the Havoc exchanged their goalie for another player in a last-ditch attempt to score. This tactic backfired, as Roanoke player Dominiks Marcinkevics scored a fourth goal for his team. Huntsville brought Milosek back out to prevent any additional bleeding. With an absolutely dominant 4-0 score, the Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs were able to claim victory.
^1– Qualified means a goalie has played a certain number of hours in a season and is officially on the rankings. This is as opposed to a goalie with really good stats but who hasn’t played a lot during the season. For example, Max Milosek has the best stats of any goalie in the league. However, he is not a qualified goalie because he just rejoined the Havoc after spending most of the season on a different team in a different league.