The Rock County Fury needed just a little more time.
The area’s girls hockey co-op team went into the third period facing a three-goal deficit, one that would prove to be too much to overcome. The Fury were bested in a WIAA sectional final by the Cap City Cougars 3-2 at Madison Ice Arena on Saturday night.
The game began with a bit of sloppy play before the two teams settled in. Unfortunately for Rock County, the Cougars settled in first and built a three-goal lead.
About six minutes in, Fury goalie McKaylie Buescher made a save with the top of her stick to keep it even at zero in the first big chance of the game.
From there, it was all Rock County as the Fury dominated the offensive zone and outshot the Cougars 13-6 in the first period. Despite the high volume of shots, neither team scored in the opening frame.
The Cougars opened the scoring on an Amanda Bauer wrister 5:28 into the second. Bauer took a pass from Zephryn Jager and chipped it over the shoulder of Buescher into the net.
The Fury went to the power play with a chance to tie the game at one, but instead gave up another goal to go down by two a minute and a half later.
Cap City senior Colleen Milligan stole the puck from Fury defenseman Dani Heitsman before sliding the puck past the left leg of Buescher for a short-handed goal.
The Fury hit the post twice in one shift to start the third, and the second shot resulted in a Cap City rush. Olivia Thompson sent a shot towards the net, which ricocheted off of a Fury defenseman’s skate to give the Cougars a 3-0 lead.
After the Cougars went up by three, Fury head coach Luke Steurer rallied his team and told them not to panic.
“We told the girls that this is a three period game and to keep shooting the puck and to keep on it,” Steurer said.
The Fury responded with two power-play goals in the third period from seniors Maggy Henschler and Dani Heitsman.
Henschler received a pass from Heitsman on the far side before sending a wrister low blocker to put the Fury on the board at 3:06 of the third. After hitting the post a few more times, it was Heitsman who scored on a slap shot from the point that hit all three posts before sliding in with a little over a minute to go.
“The intensity rose and we knew that we could do it. We had a second wind of energy,” Heitsman said of the comeback effort.
The Fury crashed the Cap City net and came close to tying the game multiple times, but the puck never found twine and the Cougars won.
“We knew it was going to be a battle coming in,” Steurer said. “We had some unfortunate bounces and they played a solid game,” he said.
Although the comeback bid fell short, both Heitsman and Steurer are proud of this season.
“We made goals at the beginning of the season that we wanted to set a good record for the upcoming classes, be conference champions, and go to state and we did pretty well I think,” Heitsman said.
Her coach agreed.
“I’m so proud of our senior leadership and the whole team. They never quit fighting tonight and they have a lot to be proud of. Next year we’re gonna be right back at it and hopefully we can do it all again.”
Cap City will face the Fond du Lac co-op on Friday in a state semifinal.
CAP CITY 3, ROCK COUNTY 2
Cap City 0 3 0—3
Fury 0 0 2—2
CC—Bauer (Jager, Olson), 5:30. CC—Colleen Milligan, sh, 7:00.
CC—Thompson (Bauer, Milligan), 2:14.
RC—Henschler (Heitsman, Burk), pp, 3:06.
RC—Heitsman (Henschler), pp, 15:35.
Saves—Buescher (RC) 26, Thornton (CC) 33.