SHERIDAN — The Sheridan NA3HL Hawks lost 2-1 on Saturday night to the Yellowstone Quake in a shootout.
Head coach Andy Scheib said the team was upset and disappointed following the loss. Scheib stepped in and reminded the players of the bigger picture — they are still on the hunt for a division championship.
The Bozeman Icedogs lost to the Great Falls Americans Saturday, and with the Hawks earning one point in their loss, Sheridan is three points behind Bozeman.
Sheridan and Bozeman face each other Feb. 28-29. The games decide the division winner.
Scheib said he told the team to let it go and regroup for next week.
“Take it (for) what it is and move on,” Scheib said.
The Hawks fell behind 1-0 in the first period following a goal by Yellowstone’s Jack Harris. Goaltender Luke Fundator was pulled and replaced by James Downie.
Scheib took to a timeout following the goal to talk with the team.
Scheib said he told the team to they needed to get their act together. The Hawks were lackadaisical and started the game assuming they won.
Defenseman Jack Royer said the Hawks did not play well in the first two periods of the game.
Sheridan went through a period of slow starts to begin the year but was corrected. As a top team in the league, the Hawks will receive the best shot from every team.
Scheib said starting games off slow is a concern with playoffs around the corner. Sheridan added new players in the past few weeks and are working on developing chemistry. There still needs to be effort despite the undeveloped chemistry.
Scheib said he believes if the Hawks play to their potential, they can beat any team in the league.
Royer attributed the slow start to the player’s preparation before the game. Royer said the team needs to be more focused entering games and be ready to play.
Royer, along with other players on the team, are about to age out of the NA3HL at 21. Some players continue hockey in college while others’ careers come to an end. The final stretch of hockey is closing in, and the team cannot afford slow starts in the playoffs. It is a life and death situation, Royer said. Blake Billings scored in the third period to tie the game at 1-1. Billings received a pass from Briar Sylvester, skated around the right edge of the Quake defense and shot from the top of the faceoff circles, finding the back of the net with 8:09 left.
Neither team gained the advantage in the final eight minutes or for the five minutes of overtime. Eight shooters were need in the shootout to decide the game.
Jacob Cummings was the third shooter for the Hawks and scored the only goal.
The Quake’s second and eighth shooter snuck the puck past Downie. In regulation play, Downie had 39 saves, keeping the Hawks in striking distance.
Sheridan faces Bozeman 7:30 p.m. Feb. 28-29.