G Marrano photos

ROANOKE, VA. – The Rail Yard Dawgs (7-2) won the President’s Cup for the first time in franchise history, defeating the Birmingham Bulls (5-5) 2-1 in a Game Four overtime victory at Berglund Center. Josh Nenadal scored Roanoke’s first goal, while captain Mac Jansen netted the winner, giving him the first and last goals of the 2022-2023 season for the Dawgs and lifting Roanoke to its first-ever SPHL championship.

The first period was mostly controlled by the Dawgs, as they outshot Birmingham 10-2 in the opening 20 minutes. Mac Jansen and Gehrett Sargis each had a good look on net or two, but neither team could break the deadlock in what was a physical stretch in the game. The game was still 0-0 at the first intermission.

The penalties arrived in the second period, with five combined power plays between the two sides. The Dawgs once again outshot the Bulls 12-6 in the frame, but it was a centering feed by Nenadal at 14:11 that actually careened in off of Birmingham’s own Hayden Stewart to open the scoring. Roanoke took the 1-0 lead into the second intermission.

Roanoke and Birmingham battled in the third period, with the Dawgs looking to close out the series in regulation and the Bulls trying to stay alive. Roanoke was mere moments away from the title, when a Jordan Martin shot was tipped in by Birmingham’s Carson Rose with 10.1 seconds left in the third period. Somehow, someway, we were heading to overtime for the second straight night in Roanoke.

The Rail Yard Dawgs shook off the late equalizer in overtime, as Billy Vizzo was able to rumble his way while trying to maintain his balance into the Birmingham zone. The puck came to Jansen, and the captain’s first of the playoffs captured the President’s Cup for Roanoke. Roanoke goaltender Austyn Roudebush was named the Most Valuable Player of the President’s Cup Final.

Roudebush stopped 18-of-19 shots in the game, while Stewart made 33 saves on 35 shots faced for the Bulls. The Dawgs were 0-for-5 on the power play, while the Bulls went 0-for-4.