October 20, 2017 - Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL) - Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs
WELCOME BACK: The Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs begin their second season in franchise history on Friday night against the Fayetteville Marksmen. Roanoke finished its inaugural season at 17-30-9 and its 43 standings points were good for ninth in the ten-team SPHL, five behind the Columbus Cottonmouths for the 8th and final playoff spot.
A FAMILIAR FOE: Roanoke and Fayetteville will match wits for the first of 13 meetings on Friday night, the most scheduled games that the Rail Yard Dawgs have with any one opponent in 2017-18. The Dawgs met the then-named Fayetteville FireAntz ten times in 2016-17 and went 2-7-1 over those contests.
HOME COOKIN': The Rail Yard Dawgs will play eight of their first nine games of the season on Berglund Center ice, with the only road game of the stretch coming on October 27 in Georgia against the defending champion Macon Mayhem. After next Friday's tilt, Roanoke will not play on the road again until it travels to Knoxville on November 24.
I KNOW YOU!: Roanoke's roster features 14 players who appeared in games for the Rail Yard Dawgs in the 2016-17 season. Headlining the list is defenseman Nick Schneider, who was named to the All-SPHL Second Team after setting new career-highs with six goals and 34 assists. Schneider also served as the first captain in franchise history.
HAPPY ANNIVERSARY: While the Rail Yard Dawgs will drop the puck to begin their second season in franchise history, professional hockey has deep roots in the Roanoke Valley with the 2017 season marking the 50th anniversary of pro hockey in the area. The Salem Rebels first brought the game to the 540 when they began their first season on Oct 24, 1967.
PLENTY OF TURNOVER: The newly rebranded Marksmen sport only six players who appeared for the then named FireAntz in 2016-17. Fayetteville made a coaching change in the offseason, Jeff Bes left for Pensacola and was replaced by first-year head coach Nick Mazzolini
BETWEEN THE PIPES: Ryan de Melo is expected to make the start in net for the Rail Yard Dawgs as he begins his fourth professional season. Over 28 games for the Rail Yard Dawgs last year, de Melo went 9-13-3 with a 3.29 GAA and a .911 SV%.
OLD FACES NEW PLACES: Defenseman Cody Walsh will make his return to Roanoke as a member of the Marksmen. Walsh appeared in 55 games for the Rail Yard Dawgs in 2016-17 and recorded two goals and 12 assists. Marksmen defenseman Craig Skudalski also played five games for Roanoke last season.
UP NEXT: Roanoke will take the remainder of the weekend off before getting back to work on next Friday against the defending champion Macon Mayhem. Puck drop in Georgia is scheduled for 7:35 PM.