SHERIDAN — Every single Sheridan High School athletic team logs many miles each and every season, having to play games in Cheyenne, Laramie and Casper, among other places. The excursion from Sheridan to Gillette is one of the more painless trips the local high school traverses.
The Sheridan Hawks played a couple games in Gillette Friday and Saturday. On the surface, that sounds like no big deal. But when the Hawks have to make that 100-mile trip while playing a game in each respective town on the same day, that gets a little more hectic.
But the players don’t see it that way.
“It’s just business as usual,” Sheridan captain Sam Boyles said. “We just treat it like we do every other weekend.”
The Hawks competed against Gillette Friday evening at 6:15 p.m. and played that same Wild team Saturday morning at 10:15 a.m. Sheridan players hopped in their respective cars Saturday following the morning game, drove home and hosted Riverton at 6:45 p.m. that same day. The Hawks hosted the River Rats one last time Sunday morning at 10:45 a.m. in the regular-season finale to cap one busy week.
“It was grueling,” Sheridan head coach Kirk Viren said. “Even a quick Gillette trip, to come back and play after a road trip, is tough. It’s tiring mentally.”
The Hawks have tackled a busy weekend schedule like this past one for the last couple of seasons. However, Sheridan hasn’t had to negotiate the hectic week with a depleted roster. The Hawks were missing four skaters for their games in Gillette, which made managing line shifts that much more essential.
Ideally, players log 30-45 second line shifts. If there’s a power play, skaters will remain on the ice for upwards of a minute. The shorthanded Hawks had to be very tactical and mindful of their smaller roster and rotate in and out accordingly in their games against the Wild.
“I think they did a pretty good job managing their shifts and coming off when they needed to,” Viren said. “I think their conditioning was pretty good. I thought [Saturday] they’d be more tired, but they had some good energy out there and pushed themselves.”
The Hawks not only fought through some fatigue, but also swiftly put a couple disappointing results behind them. Sheridan lost both games against the Wild by a combined score of 18-2.
Sheridan got after it Saturday evening, bouncing back and firing 74 shots on goal against Riverton en route to a 7-2 win. The Hawks didn’t put as many pucks on target Sunday (49), but still boasted a lopsided 6-1 victory.
The Hawks’ conditioning came to the forefront this weekend. While Sheridan didn’t seem to be affected at the tail end of the jam-packed schedule, Boyles would like to see his team get slightly better conditioned in the next couple weeks leading up to the state tournament.
“We are going to have a few games in a couple days, and we need to be ready for that,” Boyles said.
The Hawks aren’t alone in having to play multiple games in a short period of time. But for the Sheridan to play four games in three days, one day encompassing two contests in two different cities, was unique.