The Rock County Fury spent nearly as much time killing penalties in the second period Tuesday night as they did playing five-on-five hockey.
That’s not a recipe to keep an unbeaten streak alive against anyone, let alone a perennial state-tournament contender like University School co-op.
The Fury, the area’s girls co-op hockey team, allowed just one power-play goal but were whistled for four second-period penalties. The Wildcats used their extra energy to score three goals in just over 10 minutes on the way to a 4-3 victory at Edwards Ice Arena.
University School improved to 3-1, while the Fury, ranked No. 6 in the state, suffered their first loss and are now 3-1-1.
“That was one thing that really hurt us was penalties,” Rock County coach Luke Steurer said. “We spent way too much time trying to kill penalties.
“Having to fight all those off and then trying to get the energy to come back when it was even strength was hard for us.”
The teams traded goals midway through the first period, with Monroe freshman Anika Einbeck tying it 1-1 at the 9:20 mark. She skated in up the right side and sniped a top-shelf shot near-side.
The Wildcats took control in the second.
They regained the lead just over six minutes in when Hannah Gold ripped a shot on the power play that nicked the glove of Fury goalie McKaylie Buescher before finding the back of the net. University School made it 3-1 seven minutes later by stuffing home a rebound.
The Fury looked to stifle the momentum when they scored with just 1:10 remaining in the period thanks to a Milton High senior combo. Maggy Henschler won a faceoff to Heitsman at the point, and Heitsman blasted a shot through to make it 3-2.
But the Wildcats answered with just 20 seconds remaining to reclaim a two-goal advantage heading to the third.
“(If it was) 3-2 in the third, we would have had a little more momentum going,” Steurer said. “We were definitely confident. These girls don’t give up on themselves. We know we’re always in the game, no matter what the score is.”
Steurer felt the Fury played their best hockey in the third period, but they weren’t rewarded until the final seconds. There, playing six-on-four, Henschler jammed the puck home to make it 4-3.
But with just 8.9 seconds remaining, Rock County’s comeback bid ran out of time against the Wildcats, who were state runners-up in 2016 and won the state title in 2015.
The Fury’s busy week continues Thursday, when they open Badger Conference play on the road against the Badger Lightning, a co-op out of Mauston that includes Baraboo and Sauk Prairie.
“Definitely like where we’re at,” Steurer said. “I think we’re ahead of where we were a little bit last season, and these girls are just going to keep getting better and better.”
WILDCATS 4, FURY 3
University School 1 3 0—4
Rock County 1 1 1—3
US—Karly Lamoreaux (Maggie Meissner), 7:12. RC—Anika Einbeck (Cammi Ganshert, Anne Runde), 9:20.
US—Hannah Gold (Abby Hentzen, Zoe Uihlein), pp, 6:08. US—Megan McPike (Meissner), 13:10. RC—Dani Heitsman (Maggy Henschler), 15:50. US—Lamoreaux (Hannah Neudorfer, Libby Hennelly), 16:40.
RC—Henschler (Runde, Einbeck), pp, ea, 16:51.
Saves—Julianna Strother (US) 17, McKaylie Buescher (RC) 30.