BELOIT - Well, you can't say the Rock County Fury don't appreciate a good challenge.
The Beloit Memorial co-op girls hockey team will open its season Friday night playing at defending champion D.C. Everest, ranked No. 3 in the pre-season polls.
"We like the fact we have an opportunity to prove we can play with the state's best," first-year Fury head coach Luke Steurer said.
The Fury return a strong nucleus of players from last year's 14-11-2 team, which was a minute away from its own return trip to state last season. Sun Prairie scored with 41.7 seconds left to force overtime in a sectional final and Rock County fell 3-2 in double overtime,
Among the returnees is senior goaltender McKaylie Bueschler, who had 35 saves in that sectional final.
"She played very well in Tuesday's scrimmage (against Wisconsin Rapids Lincoln)," Steurer said,
Steurer has been the Fury's goaltender coach in the past, but stepped up this season to the head job when Dave Soddy stepped down.
"I've got some great assistants and they allow me to still spend individual time working with Bueschler and our other goalies," Steurer said.
The coach was impressed with his team's effort in the scrimmage.
"We have some new players and we used the scrimmage to try some things and see where we stand," Steurer said. "We played hard and made some adjustments on the fly."
• The co-op includes players from Beloit Memorial, Turner, Janesville Craig, Janesville Parker, Albany, Monroe, Milton, Clinton and Brodhead.
Beloit Memorial has two players on the squad, freshmen forwards Gabby Traver and Kylie Evans. Turner also has two players: freshman defenseman Samantha Wells and senior forward Katie Delabarre.
The Fury will also hit the road to play in a tournament hosted by Hartland Arrowhead Nov. 24-25 before finally playing at home on Nov. 28. They'll host University School of Milwaukee at 6 p.m. at Edwards Ice Arena.