Fans celebrate return of hockey to Roanoke with Rail Yard Dawgs' first game

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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ7) After more than a year's worth of work, it all came together for the Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs’ inaugural game.

6,188 people attended Friday night’s game.

The Rail Yard Dawgs fell 2-0, but the team received a standing ovation and still has plenty to be happy with.

After a more than 10 year drought, hockey made its big return in Roanoke and the crowd couldn't get enough.

"I love it all, the action, the fighting, just all of it,” said Rail Yard Dawgs fan Kylene Pyle.

The first fight came quick in the game and the fans went wild. The Rail Yard Dawgs were expecting big things, but were blown away with Friday night's turn out.

"Honestly I thought we were going to be about 5,000. I always try to aim high and try and go for it. And we were over 6,000 tonight it was fabulous, can't say anything negative,” Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs President Bob McGinn said.

Bringing hockey back to the Roanoke Valley required big investments. And having this kind of excitement here in Roanoke makes it all worth it.

"This is a great win for the city to have pro hockey and the excitement you can see and people remembering the old teams and coming out again it's really huge for the community,” Roanoke City Manager Chris Morrill said.

The party started two hours before face off with a party on the plaza. Fans are buying up gear, and making a whole lot of noise.

"It's a really good crowd, they're really loud they really want the team to win,” Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs fan Mike Jirout said.

The team says this time around, hockey is here to stay and it's making a commitment to see that promise through. And it's excited with the feedback it's gotten so far.

"The amount of people from Roanoke that are coming up to me and are saying thank you for bringing hockey back and a genuine smile and handshake and they mean it they really mean it and I'm so proud to be a part of this,” McGinn said.

Some people have concerns over $5 parking at the Berglund Center. That fee is there because there aren't enough parking spots to meet demand.

All that money goes into paying the cops and running the shuttles from the Elmwood Garage where you can park for free.

As for the game, goals were tough to come by though. The Dawgs outshot the Ice Bears 27-23 but they went 0-for-5 on the power play and fell by 2-0 to the Knoxville Ice bears. The same two teams face off Saturday night in Knoxville.