Despite losing two of the top players in the state, the Rock County Fury have plenty of talent returning.
The area high school girls co-op hockey team finished 19-3-2 last season and won the Badger Conference championship for the first time in program history. Rock County advanced to the sectional title game for the third straight season before losing 3-2 to the Cap City Cougars.
The Fury must replace one of the top forwards in the state and its leading scorer Maggy Henschler, along with the state’s top-ranked goalie a year ago in McKaylie Buescher, but head coach Luke Steurer likes his roster. Rock County opens the season Saturday against Brookfield at the Edwards Ice Arena in Beloit.
“We’re excited for the season to start,” Steurer said. “We have many returning players that will be our core group for the next couple years.
“And we’re looking to continue the success our program has had over the last couple of years. We know there’s a target on our backs as conference champions last year, so I think that pushed the girls more to work harder.”
The top line is likely to feature Anika Einbeck, Alyssa Knauf and Hailey Knauf, who had 33 goals between them last season.
“Those girls played hockey all summer and bring a lot of talent and hard work to the team,” Steurer said.
Senior captain Ella Silha also returns, along with senior defenseman Cammi Ganshert.
The second line could likely feature forwards Sara Nerad and Presley Kovacevich, along with Mya Maslonka, who returns for her junior season after being one of the team’s top scorers as a freshman.
Freshman Olivia Cronin and junior Brooke Teubert are battling to replace Buescher in goal.
‘We graduated eight seniors last year, so there will be some holes to fill,” Steurer said. “But we have plenty of players that are more than capable to fill in those spots right away and have been working hard to do so.
“We have reached the sectional final game the last three years with one state berth, and we will be looking to get over the hump this year after coming up short the last two years.”
The Fury schedule:
17—Brookfield (Edwards Ice Arena) 4:30 p.m.; 23—At Bay Area 5:30 p.m.; 24—At Fox Cities Stars 9:00 a.m.; Brookfield 12:30 p.m.; 29—Badger Lightning (Janesville Ice Arena) 7 p.m.
1—At USM Wildcats 1 p.m.; 7—At Icebergs 7 p.m.; 13—Cap City Cougars (Janesville Ice Arena) 7 p.m.; 18—Metro Lynx (Janesville Ice Arena) 7:30 p.m.; 21— Lakeshore Lightning (State Line Ice Arena) 6:30 p.m.; 22—At Viroqua 3 p.m.; 27—At Black River Falls 1 p.m.; Chippewa Falls 5 p.m.
5—Central Wisconsin (Edwards Ice Arena) 4:30 p.m.; 8—At Badger Lightning 7 p.m.; 10—Icebergs (State Line Ice Arena) 7 p.m.; 12—At Metro Lynx 2:30 p.m.; 18—At Bay Area 6:15 p.m.; 26—Onalaska (State Line Ice Arena) 1 p.m.; 31—At Cap City Cougars 7 p.m.
2—Viroqua (Edwards Ice Arena) 4:30 p.m.; 5—At Arrowhead 7 p.m.; 8—Wisconsin Valley Union (Janesville Ice Arena) 7 p.m.