When Luke Steurer saw Maggy Henschler and Zoie Steig cruising together up the sheet of ice Tuesday night at the Janesville Ice Arena, he had a feeling something good was about to happen.
Henschler and Steig are two of eight seniors on the Rock County Fury girls co-op hockey team, and as the top seed in their WIAA tournament sectional, Steurer knew his veteran players didn’t want their season to end.
Henschler and Steig didn’t have enough time to think about all that. They simply let their instincts take over.
Skating on an overtime power play, Henschler brought the puck up the ice, zigging and zagging her way into the offensive zone and confusing defenders along the way. Henschler ripped a shot that Metro Lynx goalie Sydney McKersie deflected away.
But Steig was right there, flashing to the net and looking for a rebound. She calmly smacked the loose puck home, suddenly giving the Fury a 4-3 victory and putting them one victory away from their second trip to the state tournament in program history.
Fury overtime power play https://t.co/yOcNr5DMVs— Eric Schmoldt (@ericschmoldt) February 21, 2018
“My mind just went blank,” said Steig, who attends Janesville Craig High. “I saw Maggy take it and I was like, ‘She’s going to shoot it. I might as well be there for a rebound.’
“And that was that.”
The top-seeded Fury will play the third-seeded Cap City Cougars—a fellow Badger Conference team and co-op based out of Sun Prairie—in a sectional final at 7:30 p.m. Saturday night at Madison Ice Arena.
They needed extra time to beat the Lynx, also a league foe, for the third time this season. The Fury beat the Lynx 6-0 and 5-0 in the regular season but figured they’d be in for a tough test in the third meeting.
“We knew it was going to be a full three-period game and not a 5-0 or 6-0 game,” said Luke Steurer, head coach of the Fury, who are based out of Beloit Memorial but boast a roster with players from Craig, Janesville Parker, Milton, Brodhead, Albany, Monroe, Clinton and Turner. “We were ready for it.
“None of the girls or coaches were panicking.”
Rock County never trailed in the game.
The two teams traded goals in the first period, with Henschler’s first score of the game giving the Fury a 2-1 lead at the first intermission.
Henschler, who attends Milton, made it 3-1 when she scored on a soft shot through the five hole with less than 30 seconds left in the second.
“It was so nerve-racking, but exciting at the same time,” Steig said. “Nervous, excited, scared, there were so many emotions flowing. We just needed to stay calm and keep our heads in the game.”
That was sometimes easier said than done on a night when each team was whistled for seven penalties.
And after scoring just over two minutes into the third period, the Lynx tied the game with a power-play goal with 6:34 remaining in the third.
The Fury then had a power-play opportunity to end regulation but could not convert.
But when the Lynx were whistled for roughing 32 seconds into overtime, Rock County finally converted on the man advantage for the first time all night when Steig cashed in, crashing the back side of the net for the rebound goal.
“We’ve done a lot of that in practice, crashing the net for the rebound,” Steurer said.
Henschler finished with two goals and an assist, while Haley Knauf had three assists and Anika Einbeck two. Milton senior McKaylie Buescher made 13 saves in the victory.
Now the Fury and the Cougars will have a rubber match to go to state. Rock County (19-3-2) beat Cap City (17-6-1) 2-1 in the first Badger Conference meeting but lost 5-3 on the road in the rematch.
FURY 4, LYNX 3
Metro Lynx 1 0 2 0—3
Rock County Fury 2 1 0 1—4
RC—Alyssa Knauf (Haley Knauf, Anika Einbeck), 1:37. M—Sierra Berg (Ally Conybear), 9:53. RC—Maggy Henschler (H. Knauf), 11:56.
RC—Henschler (Einbeck, H. Knauf), 16:38.
M—Haley Meskin (Berg, Kelly Smith), 2:01. M—Berg (Conybear), pp, 10:26.
RC—Zoie Steig (Henschler), pp, 2:09.
Saves—Sydney McKersie (M) 27, McKaylie Buescher (RC) 13.