The Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs

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roanoke rail yard dawgs

Virginia hockey powerhouse Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs unveil their protected list for the 2023-2024 season

The Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs are fresh off a championship run, claiming the President’s Cup with a 3-1 series win over the Birmingham Bulls in the Southern Professional Hockey League’s (SPHL) championship tournament. But for team leadership like head coach and general manager Dan Bremmer along with the ownership headed by Bob McGinn and his sons, and the rest of the front office, that means that the battle is just beginning.

Every year when a team’s performance captures them a championship win, it triggers a paradigm shift in the sport. Like any sport worth its salt, hockey is a game of copycats, with savvy GMs looking to capitalize on what they think could be a championship formula. 

This means that every other team in the SPHL will be looking to poach any players they can from the Rail Yard Dawgs this offseason. As such the team will have to act accordingly to keep top players in town or find worthy replacements in a seller’s market. 

The good news for Roanoke and their fans is that this endeavor is a much easier task this season than it has been in previous ones: without any expansion teams making their way into the growing league, the Rail Yard Dawgs won’t have to deal with expansion drafts poaching away key depth players for free.

Another quirk of the SPHL are the protected lists, which make it so that teams can set aside 13 of their players and prevent other teams from negotiating for a contract with them. It’s a rule that is similar to the franchise tag used in the National Football League. This means that more than one third of the Rail Yard Dawgs’ roster (and, most importantly, the best third of their players) is protected from jumping ship for another team. But it still leaves the door open for key players to leave town. 

Virginia sports betting enthusiasts closely examine the Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs’ protected list for insights on team strategy, player development and potential betting opportunities in the upcoming season. Here’s a look at who the Rail Yard Dawgs decided to put on their protected list this season, as well as notable exceptions who could be missed if another team floats an offer they can’t refuse:

roanoke rail yard dawgs
Roanoke Rail Yard Dogs protected list

Roanoke opted for a good level of balance, protecting six forwards, six defensemen and one goalie with the slots they had. Among the forwards are Nick Ford and CJ Stubbs, both of whom averaged nearly one point per game; playoff hero Billy Vizzo; speedy rookie Dom Marcinkevics; trade acquisition Jason Lavallée; and late season signee Alex DiCarlo.

Over on the blue line, Roanoke decided to protect alternate captain Matt O’Dea, one of the greatest skaters in franchise history; lockdown defender and enforcer Sean Leonard; as well as young guns C.J. Valerian; Jarrad Vroman; Brendan Pepe and John Stampohar.

In net, the decision of who to protect probably took half a second. Goaltender Austyn Roudebush, who came up clutch in a pair of overtime games to close out the championship on the way to being named postseason MVP, allowed a measly 2.18 goals per game, a rate even better than his regular season average. 

With that protected list, the Rail Yard Dawgs retain an excellent combination of up and coming talents and the trustworthy veterans to help lead them as they hone their craft. They’re in danger of losing one of last year’s top scorers in Mac Jansen (19 goals and 30 assists in 55 games), but GM Bremmer spoke to the team’s desire to stay together and run it back for a second championship.

Whether those words have weight or are simply the confident bluster of a head man fresh off a championship remain to be seen.

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