Rock County Fury coach Luke Steurer took one glance at his team’s schedule and knew he had a challenge on his hands.
The Fury would have to contend with Middleton and Cap City within 48 hours this week, and the results were predictable.
After losing a hard-fought battle to Middleton on Tuesday night in Janesville, the Fury looked tired from the outset of Thursday night’s game at Edwards Ice Arena.
The fatigue played no small role in a 3-0 defeat to Cap City.
The Fury (9-5) were outshot 34-20 and never truly had a great opportunity to break through for a score.
Steurer said the team was missing a spark from the opening faceoff.
“We came out really flat right away,” Steurer said. “And we never really picked up the pace. We didn’t have a lot of energy, and Cap City came out from the beginning ready to play.”
While acknowledging the difficulty of the schedule, Steurer said the team could not use it as an excuse.
“We had a really tough battle with Middleton on Tuesday,” Steurer said. “The girls were still feeling it from that, but we can’t make excuses. We’ve got to come out ready to play every single game.”
The first goal came in the first period by Amanda Bauer. The junior put it past Rock County sophomore Olivia Cronin, who was otherwise outstanding in the net.
She finished the evening with 31 saves, including 15 in the third period.
“That’s the goal that I felt I could have done a better job preventing,” Cronin said. “The puck hit off my shoulder and flew in the air and I didn’t know where it was. They had someone to clean it up on the backside. Theoretically, I could’ve used by blocker and put it in the corner there.”
Any thoughts of a third-period comeback were quelled thanks in large measure to Fury three penalties, one of which led to a 5-on-3 advantage, giving the Cougars their final goal of the evening.
The Fury couldn’t take advantage of a terrific performance by Cronin, who was under fire all evening. Cap City’s final goal came after Cronin turned the Cougars back five times on the power play.
“Olivia’s always strong in the nets for us,” Steurer said. “No matter what the score is, she’s always fighting and helping us stay in the game. She made a lot of great saves again tonight.”
Cronin agreed that the energy level was insufficient.
“We were definitely tired out there,” Cronin said. “Even during warmups I didn’t think we were mentally prepared to play the game. That definitely took a toll on us. Hopefully we can learn a lesson from tonight as we look ahead to the last quarter of the regular season.”
The Fury will be back in action Tuesday when they travel to Mequon to take on the Lakeshore Lightning.
COUGARS 3, FURY 0
Cap City 1 0 2—3
Rock County 0 0 0—0
CC—Bauer (Bliefernicht, Jager)
CC—Bliefernicht (Jager). CC—Rosin (Jager, Baker).
Saves: Cronin (RC) 34; Hollman (CC) 20. Penalties—RC 5, CC 2.