SHERIDAN — The Sheridan NA3HL Hawks completed the sweep of the Great Falls Americans Saturday night, winning in a shootout.
Sixty minutes of hockey was not enough time for either team to distance themselves. The teams were tied 2-2 heading into overtime and after five minutes of 3-on-3 hockey, the game was still in a deadlock. A shootout was required to decide the victor.
The Hawks shot first in the shootout. On the American’s first attempt, Brody Boyce slipped the puck past Hawks goaltender James Downie.
“I was confident after that, I knew I would not let another one in. I tried something that I should not have and it cost me. The boys battled back and we won the game,” Downie said.
The Hawks tied the shoot out on their third attempt when Mike Kocsis scored. After the first five shooters, the teams were still tied. First team to have a goal and a stop would win the game.
Hawks defenseman Alex Kesler approached puck for his attempt with one thought on his mind.
“I got to score this goal, got to score this goal for the boys and for my spectacular goaltender Downie who had been incredible all night,” Kesler said.
Kesler scored and all Downie had to do was come up with the save.
After letting the puck pass him on the first attempt, Downie denied the next five skaters to win the game for Sheridan. In total, Downie had 33 saves on the night.
The Hawks stormed the ice and mobbed Downie. Sheridan has a team where everyone is ready to go battle for each other and a win after 65 minutes of hockey and a shootout brings the team closer together. It also gives the team a lot of energy moving forward.
“The boys are absolutely buzzing right now,” Downie said.
The weekend was full of adversity for the Hawks. Friday night the team played without players due to suspensions and illnesses, Scheib said.
Sheridan struck first Friday with a goal from Trevor Timm. The Americans tied the game at 1-1 followed by the Hawks scoring three unanswered goals to end the period. Jonathon Teasdale, Kesler and Kocsis scored for Sheridan to give them a 4-1 lead. The Americans scored in the third period to bring the final score to 4-2.
The teams character showed in Friday’s game and was tested again Saturday.
Sheridan struck first, 2:44 into the game, with a goal from Kolton Wright. The Americans answered four minutes later and took the lead in the second period. Scheib said the team did not play well in the first two periods and Great Falls capitalized on their opportunities.
The Hawks were shorthanded for three-and-a-half minutes in the second period, leading the goal by Great Falls. Penalties are going to cost a team when they play a quality opponent like the Americans, Scheib said.
The Hawks looked like a new team in the third period and controlled the pace of the game. Downie said Scheib refocused the team before the third period started. Sheridan eliminated penalties, placing themselves in a good situation. The team had the collective goal to outwork Great Falls in the final period.
“If you outwork them, you are going to be rewarded for that,” Scheib said.
The Hawks were rewarded when Anthony Fortin’s shot found the back of the net with 15:18 left in the period. Neither team gained the advantage and the game went to overtime, then a shootout.
Penalties put the Hawks in a dangerous position in the final 1:46 of the game. The Hawks killed a penalty to force overtime and had the momentum entering the shootout, Kesler said.
The Hawks improve to 33-8-1 on the season. Sheridan travels to Helena to face the Bighorns Feb. 14-15.