Dawgs Beat Rivermen in SPHL Playoff Opener

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Mac Jansen scored twice and Josh Nenadal’s deflection goal late in the third period gave Roanoke the lead for good as the Rail Yard Dawgs defeated the Peoria Rivermen, 4-3, in game one of the Challenge Round, Wednesday night at Berglund Center. Roanoke will now head to Peoria with a chance to clinch the best-of-three series.

With the Dawgs trailing, 3-2, early in the third, Cody Dion took the puck just inside the blue line along the right wing. He hit a streaking Colton Wolter in the slot who fired a snap shot that snuck just under the crossbar and the game was tied at three.

Roanoke and Peoria went toe-to-toe throughout the third and it was the Dawgs who took control with under three minutes to play. Cam Bakker took a shot from the blue line that Nenadal deflected past Storm Phaneuf, giving the Rail Yard Dawgs a 4-3 lead.

Peoria pulled Phaneuf for an extra attacker in the final minutes and threatened but could not even the score. The Rail Yard Dawgs held on and took game one, 4-3.

The Dawgs struck first on their first shot of the game. After Roanoke forced a turnover at center ice, Adrian Carbonara sprung Jansen and Steve Mele for a two-on-one rush. Jansen glided in patiently and passed to a trailing Oleksandr Liulchuck. Liulchuck slid it right back to Jansen who then chipped the puck past the lunging Phaneuf, giving Roanoke a 1-0 lead.

Peoria evened the score early in the second period when a Ben Oskroba slap shot navigated traffic and beat Jacob Caffrey top shelf. Roanoke grabbed the lead back just past the halfway point after Travis Armstrong’s shot from the blue line was blocked by Phaneuf but Jansen picked up the rebound and slung it into the net to make it 2-1.

The Rivemen grabbed the lead with a pair of goals late in the second. First, a Kevin Patterson slap shot beat Caffrey low on the blocker side to tie the game. After the Dawgs won the ensuing faceoff, a turnover at the blue line led to a breakaway for Joe Kalisz, who walked in a buried a wrister, giving Peoria the lead at 3-2.

Jansen had two goals, Armstrong finished with two assists and Nenadal’s first professional goal was the game-winner. Caffrey made 30 saves on 33 shots to earn the win in net.

The Rail Yard Dawgs will now head to Peoria with a chance to advance to the semifinals. Game two of the best-of-three series will take place on Friday night. Puck drop at Owens Center is scheduled for 7:15 PM CDT.

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