Hockey has always been more than just a sport for the people of Madison, Wisconsin. It is a part of their culture and identity, intertwined with the city’s history and traditions. The Madison Capitols, a junior ice hockey team, have been a source of pride and passion for the people of Madison since the 1970s. Over the years, the team has delivered some unforgettable moments and created a legacy that will be cherished forever. From historic upsets to remarkable wins, the Madison Capitols have left a mark in the world of hockey. In this article, we will take a trip down memory lane and revisit some of the most memorable moments in Madison’s’ history.
The Early Years and the Miracle Playoff Run
As with any great team, the Madison Capitols had humble beginnings. They were officially established in 1970 as members of the United States Hockey League (USHL). During their initial years, the team struggled to find their footing in the highly competitive league, but that changed in the 1973–74 season. The team, led by head coach Bob Prehm and captain Bruce Johnson, pulled off one of the greatest upsets in USHL history by defeating the defending champions, the Green Bay Bobcats, in a thrilling seven-game playoff series. This victory propelled the Capitols to their first-ever USHL finals, where they lost to the Des Moines Capitols in six games. However, the 1973–74 season will always be remembered as the Miracle Playoff Run for the Madison Capitols.
USHL Championships and the Return of the Capitols
In the 1980s, the Madison Capitols dominated the USHL, winning four straight championships from 1983 to 1986. The team was stacked with talented players such as Dave Snuggerud, Tony Granato, and Mike Sweeney, who would go on to have successful careers in the National Hockey League (NHL). The Madison Capitols had become a force to be reckoned with in the USHL, and their success inspired a new generation of young hockey players in the city.
After a brief hiatus in the 2000s, the Madison Capitols made a return in 2014, this time as members of the United States Hockey League (USHL). The team immediately made an impact, finishing third in their division in their first season back. They continued to improve in the following years, reaching the playoffs in the 2016–17 and 2017–18 seasons, with the latter considered one of the most successful seasons in the team’s recent history.
The 2018-19 Season: A Historic Win and a Championship Run
The 2018-19 season will always be remembered as the ultimate underdog story for the Madison Capitols. The team, which had a disappointing record in the previous season, surprised everyone by finishing second overall in the USHL, their best league standing to date. However, the highlight of the season came in the playoffs, when the Capitols faced the top-seeded Muskegon Lumberjacks in the conference quarterfinals. The Lumberjacks were heavily favored to win the series, but the Capitols had other plans. In an intense five-game series, the Capitols pulled off an upset, defeating the Lumberjacks and advancing to the conference semi-finals.
The Capitols’ incredible playoff run didn’t stop there. In the conference semi-finals, they faced the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders, who had also finished ahead of them in the regular season. The Capitols once again proved to be the underdogs, defeating the RoughRiders in a nail-biting five-game series. This victory propelled the team to their first-ever USHL championship series, where they faced the Sioux Falls Stampede. Though the Capitols ultimately lost the series, the 2018–19 season will always be remembered as a remarkable one for the team and their fans.
The Future of the Madison Capitols
The Madison Capitols are currently in their seventh season in the USHL, and they continue to make strides both on and off the ice. The team has a strong focus on developing young talent, and many of their players have gone on to play in Division I colleges and even in the NHL. They also have a dedicated fan base, including the Cap City Maniacs, a group of passionate fans who are always present to support the team.
In addition to their on-ice success, the Madison Capitols also actively contribute to the community. Every year, the team hosts a Pink in the Rink event to raise awareness and funds for breast cancer research. They also collaborate with local schools to promote sportsmanship and physical fitness among young children.
The Madison Capitols have had a rich history filled with ups and downs, victories and defeats. However, through it all, they have remained a symbol of strength, resilience, and teamwork, inspiring generations of hockey fans in Madison. As we continue to follow the team’s journey, we can’t wait to see what the future holds for the Madison Capitols.