BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – In a game that will be remembered more for the penalties and less for the final score, the Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs won game two of the best-of-three series to force a deciding game three.

Ben Bauer got the scoring started on the evening after a slashing call on Birmingham’s Garrett Schmitz, he took a pass from Jordan Carvalho just inside the blue line and fired the shot past a screened Mavric Parks for the goal. After what would be an appetizer of penalties throughout the remainder of the first period, neither team would find the back of the net, with Roanoke leading 1-0 after the first period.

The second period is when the main course was served. A combined 54 minutes of penalties would be called during the 20 minutes of play. When the whistles were not being blown, the Rail Yard Dawgs picked up a goal at 2:34 of the period from Josh Nendal with Everett Thompson and Oleksandr Liulchuk getting the assists. At the 9:16 mark of the second period, I saw something I’ve never seen before and too be honest, did not know was a rule till Friday night, Mavric Parks was ejected from the game for displacing the goal net.

According to the 2018-19 SPHL rulebook, the ejection came due to this rule:

“A minor penalty and game misconduct shall be imposed on any player (including the goalkeeper) who delays the game by deliberately displacing a goal post from its normal position. The Referee shall stop play immediately when the offending team gains possession of the puck. When a game misconduct is imposed under this rule, an automatic fine of two-hundred fifty dollars ($250) shall also be imposed.”

This forced Birmingham backup goaltender, Sebastian Andersson into his first action of the playoff season. Roanoke’s Cody Dion would take advantage of the minor penalty assessed to the Bulls on the behalf of Parks and score a power-play goal on the first shot faced by Andersson. That would be the only goal allowed by Andersson in his 28:02 of relief work. After the Parks penalty, there would be eight more stoppages of play for penalties for roughing, continuing altercation, hooking, unsportsmanlike conduct, and finally slashing.

After the second period was over, the third seemed to fly by like a kite on a windy day. Only seven penalties would be called in this period. The highlight for the period for Birmingham, if there was one, was Taylor Dickin scoring with 2:41 remaining in the game to spoil the shutout attempt of Roanoke’s Jacob Caffrey. Caffrey played well for the Dawgs, 26 saves on 27 shots with multiple point-blank saves.

All total for the games the teams combined for 27 penalties for 80 minutes. The Rail Yard Dawgs had 11 power play chances, scoring twice. The Bulls had six opportunities but failed to convert on any of them.

After the game, an almost speechless and totally frustrated Bulls Coach Jamey Hicks had this to say about losing at home for the first time in the playoffs: “Teams lose in the playoffs, it’s how we’re gonna respond tomorrow.”

When asked about the ugliness of the litany of penalties, his response was simply “Yep”.

So, it will all come down to Saturday night. To steal a theme from the classic 80’s and 90’s wrestling that folks in the South know all too well, it’s a “loser leaves town match.” Game three of the best-of-three series with a spot in the Presidents Cup Finals on the line.

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