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SHERIDAN — The Sheridan Hawks swept the Riverton River Rats in a 6-1 victory Saturday and a 10-6 offensive onslaught Sunday to close out the regular season.
The Hawks finished the regular season with a 14-2-0 record.
“The team had a lot of offensive power (Sunday),” head coach Kirk Viren said. “Saturday, we were better defensively. Sunday, we just had a couple of fluke goals…they were resilient, though.”
Saturday’s game was a rout with the Hawks outshooting the River Rats 44-18. Blake Billings and Thomas Moore scored two goals apiece in the opening game of the weekend.
But Sheridan’s defense was not nearly as crisp Sunday. Luckily, Riverton’s defense struggled, as well.
It only took a minute and a half for Toby Jacobs to get a well-timed pass in front of the net and push it past the goalie for the first goal of the game. Less than 40 seconds later, Riverton responded with a goal of its own on the team’s first shot at the net.
The two teams might as well have had open nets in the first period. The two teams traded goals, leading to a 6-4 Hawks lead at the end of the first 18 minutes of regulation.
As pleased as he was about his team’s offense, Viren would have liked to have seen better play from his defense.
“We were pushing the puck up the ice nice, but every shot Riverton had was going in just about,” Viren said. “We just kept our foot on the gas … it took both the teams a while to get into the game.”
The final two periods of the game looked more like an ice hockey game rather than a turkey shoot. Both defenses stepped up until Riverton’s Sam Mcmanemy went the length of the ice to score a shorthanded goal and cut the deficit to 1. However, the Hawks responded with two power-play goals to extend their lead heading into the final period.
After Riverton scored the first goal of the third period, Barak Broad and Samuel Boyles scored two unanswered goals to put the game away.
Viren liked the way his team responded in the second and third periods.
“Hockey is just a funny game sometimes,” Viren said. “Sometimes you wonder if an offensive onslaught like that is going to end, and you have to start playing defense. I think that’s kind of what happened.”
Five different players scored goals for the Hawks. Broad chipped in two and recorded two assists, and Boyles picked up a hat trick with three goals Sunday.
“Sam is a hard-nose defensemen who plays all-around good hockey,” Viren said. “He’ll work every shift and make a good pass. He’s just a good leader.”
Viren said his team’s record doesn’t matter anymore. As the Hawks make their way into the state tournament, the coach said his team is looking better than in years past to take the state championship.
“We have a lot of good team chemistry headed into the state tournament … I think we’ll do well,” he said.
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