SHERIDAN — The Sheridan Hawks reacquainted themselves with Jay Rock’s song “WIN” this weekend. After not jamming out on their home ice to their victory song in 70 days, the players earned the right to tune in and turn up Saturday morning after their regular-season finale.
For the second time in less than 24 hours, Sheridan had one of Rock’s biggest hits reverberating inside the Whitney Rink at the M&M’s Center, as the Hawks recorded a come-from-behind 7-6 win over Cheyenne.
“It sucks playing from behind like that, but I was so proud of these guys for not giving up,” Sheridan head coach Kirk Viren said. “They just never died and never gave up.”
Blake Billings did much of the heavy lifting for the shorthanded Hawks. Toby and Wade Jacobs — who have combined to tally 39 points for the Hawks this season — couldn’t play Saturday, as they were both taking the ACT.
This left Billings to pick up much of the scoring slack, and he did that and then some. The Sheridan senior, in his final game at Whitney Rink, netted five goals.
“I just wanted to put it all out there for my last home game of my high school career,” Billings said. “I didn’t want to leave anything out there.”
Billings tallied the game’s last two goals — the final one coming with 7 minutes, 31 seconds to play in the contest — which gave Sheridan its first lead of the day. The Hawks played catchup for a majority of the 64-minute game that included five ties.
Billings’ first goal leveled the score at 2 early in the second period. The Capitals had seized a 2-0 lead off two first-period goals from Tyler Schlagel. Sheridan’s Joel Bailey made it 2-1 with a score late in the first period.
Billings knotted the game at 3 midway through the second stanza, and brother John tied it at 4 with under a second to play in that same period. Blake Billings single-handedly evened the game up twice in the final 18 minutes, and all three of his scores in the final period were unassisted.
“Blake, today, took this game on, and he just wasn’t going to be denied,” Viren said. “He carried that puck so many times, and I think one of the more impressive things was one of the penalty kills he wasted a good minute just skating up and down the ice and having guys chase him. He was just clutch.”
Sheridan goaltender Josh Eaton turned away 38 of the 44 shots on target, and Cheyenne goalie Brayden Kivisto boasted 20 saves.
The Hawks finished the regular season with a 14-5-1 record (29 points). They currently sit in third place of the Wyoming Amateur Hockey League standings, four points clear of fourth-place Casper.
The Oilers own the tiebreaker over Sheridan and they finish the regular season at home in a pair of games against Cheyenne. The top six teams qualify for the A state tournament. With that already in hand, the Hawks are just left wondering what seed they’ll earn, which will either be No. 3 or No. 4.
In any event, Sheridan believes Saturday’s win and the way in which it was won, will pay dividends in that state tournament.
“State games can get very emotional and very intense, back and forth like this one [Saturday],” Viren said. “There’s so much on the line. It’s do or die. You lose and you go home. For them to see this kind of game right before state, and for them to just keep working was great to see.”