Sheridan adds junior hockey team from Wisconsin

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   Throughout the years, Sheridan has been known for its supportive community. Forrest Mars Jr. has donated a lot over the years and especially for Sheridan. One of the many things he donated  money to was the Whitney Rink at M&M’s Center. At first, the rink was for the high school team, youth teams, and a free skate for the community. In the last year, a Junior hockey team has moved here and joined the Northern American Tier 3 Hockey League (NA3HL) conference. 

   For almost all of the Sheridan Hawks home games, the stands have been packed with home fans, enjoying food and drinks and cheering on Sheridan. At the start of the year, it was hard for the players being from such different places. The communication was off at the beginning of the year since the players were unfamiliar with their teammates’ style of play. “We’ve started to get along a lot better and got to know everyone’s next move,” said Junior McCaffery Billings. McCaffery is the youngest on the team, 16 years old, and he has played for Colorado teams before and came back to Sheridan to play with the junior team. Being the youngest player on the team, McCaffery has had to take a different role and mature in his play more than other players have. 

   Changing locations from Wisconsin to Sheridan was the start of a hard duty for the head coach, Andrew Scheib. Coach Scheib got some of his players from the Wisconsin team to come to Sheridan to visit, and they fell in love with the place and decided to move with the team. Scheib then knew he had to find other players. He ended up getting two players from Sheridan, Blake Billings and his little brother McCaffery Billings. Scheib’s next move was to find a goalie and a couple of other players. “I went to a lot of NAHL camps all over the country to try and find some more players,” said Scheib. “Then from there we made a few trades and are at where we’re at now.”

   The community is having an absolute blast with the new team. The home games average around 350 fans. The facility also opened a beer garden for fans over 21 to enjoy during the game which has also brought in some people. “They are very supportive of what we’re doing, and it helps make my guys feel more at home and gets them excited to play games in front of the hometown crowd,” said Scheib. At the home games, there will be fans cheering on the Hawks and trash-talking some of the opponents. The fans love the goal celebrations, the hockey style fighting, and the big hits that have come with the team’s appearance in Sheridan. 

   The Hawks are currently tied for second in the frontier division and are on a 13 game winning streak. Sheridan’s division consists of Bozeman, Mt. Helena, Mt. Butte, Mt. Missoula, Mt, Great Falls,Mt. Yellowstone, Wy. and Gillette, Wy. There has been one player on the team that has gotten the opportunity to move up to play at the next level. The team also participates in team bonding activities such as hiking and community service. A couple weeks ago, the team helped Sagebrush Elementary with their vegetable garden. At the end of the regular season, the top four teams move on to playoffs. The Sheridan Hawks look to keep their season going strong. The Hawks are playoff contenders and hope to make a run for it in the playoffs with the communities support. “From a team standpoint I couldn’t ask for more,” said Scheib.