The Rail Yard Dawgs will be the fourth professional hockey team to call Roanoke home. The Roanoke Valley Rebels played in the Eastern Hockey League/Southern Hockey League from 1970-1976. The Roanoke Express were in the East Coast Hockey League (1993-2004). The last team to play in Roanoke were the Roanoke Valley Vipers in the United Hockey League (2005-2006).
Roanoke will open their season on Friday night when they host the Knoxville Ice Bears in the first hockey game in ten years. Fans have been buying up tickets to the opening game at the Berglund Center with 6,000 of the arena’s 8,000 seats have been sold.
Sam Ftorek is the head coach. Ftorek played 17 years in the minor leagues with 10 different teams and transitioned to assistant coach with the Kalamazoo Wings last season.
The nickname was a result of the owners wanting a unique identity and logo for the team. The name comes from Roanoke’s train history.