SPHL Announces 2019-20 Rule Changes

By: Jesse Gilbert/dawg-park.com Contributor

The SPHL has revealed several new rule changes for the 2019-20 hockey season following their annual Board of Governors meeting this week. The majority of the rule changes are to the playoffs, specifically to the format of how playoff opponents are selected.

Last season the Rail Yard Dawgs finished 5th overall in the regular season, putting them at risk of being selected by the top seeded Peoria in the challenge round. As we all know Peoria selected Roanoke over 8th seeded Fayetteville likely due to travel distance and the regular season matchups going in the Rivermen’s favor.

A 1 seed versus 5 seed round 1 matchup will not be happening again this year as the SPHL has decided to replace the challenge round in favor of a more traditional playoff seeding structure. The top 4 seeds will no longer be selecting their round 1 matchups from the pool of bottom 4 seeds. Seed 1 will play seed 8, seed 2 will play seed 7, seed 3 will play seed 6, and seed 4 will play seed 5. Additionally, after round 1, the SPHL will re-seed the first round winners again according to the regular season results. All playoff matchups will continue to be a best-of-three series.

Teams will additionally be able to carry a 20th player on their roster going into the playoffs but only if the 20th player is an amateur player signed to an amateur try-out contract within the last 2 weeks of the regular season.

The last change announced is that all teams will no longer have to scratch a roster spot when a player is suspended. They will be able to field the full 19 spot roster no matter the suspensions.

Game 1 Recap and Looking Toward Game 2

By: Jesse Gilbert/dawg-park.com Contributor

The Dawgs fell after a back and forth battle in game one Thursday night at the Berglund Center against their second round opponent the Birmingham Bulls. The Dawgs did not manage to hold the lead once in Thursday night’s tilt but they did keep pace with the Bulls. Both teams netted a goal on the powerplay after neither of them having much PP success in their 7 regular season matchups. Of course, it does help when you are given so many powerplay chances.

Fan favorite Adrian Carbonara drew the ire of the Bulls early and found himself in the penalty box for roughing a Bulls player from the bench in the first period. He was able to tie the game with an outstanding team effort off a quick series of passes from Jansen and Wolter.  Mac Jansen continued his trend as the Bull killer scoring with only 3.8 seconds left in the second period. Jansen had a spectacular game netting himself 3 points (1G, 2A). Colin Murray found his stride once again scoring after Travis Armstrong’s slapshot rang off the post and landed in the crease. Murray’s goal would be the Dawgs only powerplay goal out of 8 power play attempts.

The Bulls were able to take advantage of some lucky bounces and defensive lapses. The Bulls aggressive forecheck had the Dawgs struggling on their breakout of their own zone. Shane Topf set the tone early on with a one-time shot from the slot after a no look feed from Craig Simchuk. Garret Schmitz scored the Bulls only powerplay goal out of 6 powerplay attempts. Mike Davis scored on an unlucky bounce off of Travis Armstrong’s skate which put the puck in prime shooting position for Davis and left Caffery out of position. Despite the Dawgs tying it late in the second Mike Crocock scored 1:12 into the third period going five-hole on Jacob Caffrey. Crocock’s goal would be the game winning goal.

The Dawgs outshot the Bulls 30-19, with 15 of Roanoke’s shots coming in the third period. Despite this Mavric Park’s played a great game and kept the Bulls in it to seal the deal for the game one win. As if going into the series down 1-0 with both remaining games being played in Birmingham wasn’t bad enough, the Dawgs will have to do it without one of their better goal scorers, Maxime Guyon. Guyon was determined to tie the game late in the third putting up a total of 6 shots in the game. Despite this Maxime’s frustration got the better of him and he has been suspended for games two and three for crosschecking a Bull in the face.

Game two is in Birmingham at the Pelham Civic Center Friday night at 8:30 eastern time. Let’s go Dawgs!!

Playoff Preview: Roanoke vs. Birmingham

by Jesse Gilbert/dawg-park.com Contributor

This past weekend Roanoke won its very first play-off series as a franchise. After an impressive 2-0 sweep against the top seeded Peoria Rivermen, the Dawgs find themselves pitted against the second seed Birmingham Bulls. Birmingham advanced to the Presidents Cup semi-finals by defeating the Fayetteville Marksmen in three games. Despite being shutout 4-0 by the Marksmen in game 1, the Bulls rallied at home winning game two 3-2 and game three 5-0.

The Dawgs and the Bulls met 7 times this regular season with Roanoke finishing the matchup with a 3-2-2 record. Mac Jansen has 8 points (4G, 4A) throughout those seven games and has Roanoke’s highest point totals followed by Steve Mele (2G, 5A). The Dawgs have given up 92 PIMs against the Bulls but Birmingham has not had very much success getting the best of the Dawgs penalty killing unit scoring only 3 times out of 30 powerplays (10%). The Dawgs have found a bit more success on the PP during the regular season against the Bulls scoring 4 times on 29 powerplays (13.8%).

The Bulls will likely continue to rely on the efforts of Mavric Parks in net against Roanoke. Parks boasts a 0.934 save% in his three games against Fayetteville. Parks made 85 saves on 91 shots in the three game series against Fayetteville. Mavric has remained consistent throughout the regular season with 0.933 save% and a 2.28 GAA and led the team to 30 wins.

The Dawgs will continue to trust Jacob Caffrey between the pipes going into the semi-finals. Caffrey finished the regular season with a 0.903 save% and a 2.97 GAA. Caffrey finished the regular season with 13 wins. While Caffrey’s regular season stats are not quite as significant as Parks’, Caffrey played a very big role in Roanoke’s victory against Peoria. Caffrey made a huge save in game one where he punched a floating puck over top of the crossbar to keep Roanoke alive.

If Roanoke is able to play as consistently as they have against Birmingham during the regular season, we are in for a very exciting matchup. Game one of the semi-finals will be played at the Berglund Center Thursday night at 7:05. Let’s go Dawgs!