Dane Co. restrictions force Madison Capitols to cancel season

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Published: Sep. 18, 2020 at 1:05 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - The Madison Capitols will not take the ice this winter. The U.S. Hockey League announced the move Friday, blaming the decision on Dane County restrictions enacted because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is an extremely difficult decision for our organization as we are deeply disappointed for our players, fans and the Madison community,” Capitols Owner Ryan Suter said. “We feel for our young players and their future academic and athletic careers."

The team explained the health restrictions imposed would not allow them to play at Bob Suter’s Capitol Ice Area. On top of that, the sport itself is listed as ‘high risk’ and, as such, is banned. Plus, even if they could play, ‘mass gathering’ rules would bar fans from the indoor sporting venues.

In a statement, the team stated it met with local health officials to present a return to play plan, but they were unable to reach an arrangement. It is the only team in the league that had its season ended by the coronavirus outbreak.

When asked about the cancellation, Public Health Madison & Dane Co. pointed to the nearly 2,400 new COVID-19 cases discovered in the county over the past two weeks, arguing that their restrictions are even more important now.

“(I)t simply isn’t safe for people to attend gatherings or play sports that require close contact," Heath Education Coordinator Christy Vogt said.

Derecho cancels season

Another team, the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders, will not play this year either, but for a completely different reason. Its stadium suffered significant damage last month when a derecho swept through the region causing massive damage across northeast Iowa and knocking out power to hundreds of thousands of people.

“The property damage suffered in the entire Cedar Rapids area by its residents and businesses was significant,” RoughRiders President, General Manager and Head Coach Mark Carlson said. “Our community will rebuild and recover from the storm.”

The USHL stated a dispersal draft will be held for the players on both teams, so they don’t miss out on the season. The league is currently making the schedule for the remaining 14 teams. The season is set to start on Friday, November 6.

“Both clubs were resolute in their desire to take the ice, but ultimately these extenuating circumstances prevent them from playing this season,” USHL President and Commissioner Tom Garrity said. He added that the league expects both teams to return for the 2021 season, something Suter is already looking forward to.

“We were excited about the direction of our organization under new general manager and head coach, Tom Upton, along with the staff changes of the past few years,” Suter added. “We are preparing our return in the 2021-22 season."

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