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Roanoke Junior Rail Yard Dawgs hockey team

The Roanoke Junior Rail Yard Dawgs get 2nd place in a tournament in Charlotte, NC.

The Roanoke Junior Rail Yard Dawgs get 2nd place in a tournament in Charlotte, NC.

Ava Wagner, Reporter

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The Roanoke Junior Rail Yard Dawg hockey team was created two years ago when the semi-professional hockey team moved to Roanoke. The junior team was previously called Roanoke Express. This team consists of several different age groups all the way up to the U18 team.

“I enjoy playing hockey because it is a high-speed game with fast movements, and it requires lots of quick reactions,” said Nathanael Valentine (10).

As of the 2017-2018 season, three students at Hidden Valley play for the Junior Rail Yard Dawgs. Freshman Isaac Fuller, sophomore Nathanael Valentine, and senior Matthew Bollinger play for the top two age groups of the team. High school students typically play for the U16 and U18 teams.

“When I am on the ice, it is a time for me to relax and play the sport that I love,” said Valentine (10).

The Junior Rail Yard Dawgs are a travel team that goes to many different cities for tournaments on the weekends. In the past two years, the team has traveled to Washington D.C., Canada, multiple cities in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Florida, and South Carolina.

“Traveling is fun because I like going to other places and challenging ourselves against teams that do not live in this area,” said Isaac Fuller (9).

On the U18 team, fifteen players tried out and one was cut. The team has won two out of eighteen games this season because they are working with a very small number of players. In the Roanoke area, only fifteen kids ages 16 -18 had interest in playing hockey and tried out for the team.

“Our team has not started off very strong due to the lack of numbers, but everyone is trying hard and doing their best,” said Valentine (10).

Even with the team not having a lot of players, they have found ways to bond with each other and work together in practice and games. The team holds practices and home games at the Berglund Center near downtown Roanoke. All age groups play throughout the winter months with the older teams traveling to many different places for games. The Roanoke Junior Rail Yard Dawgs are finishing up their season as of late February of 2018 and hope to continue to get better over the off season.

“I hope to continue my hockey career throughout college and work hard to get better every day,” said Fuller (9).

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