MIDDLETON (WKOW) -- The season came to a premature end for the Madison Capitols. The coronavirus outbreak eliminated the final 12 games.
"It was difficult because everybody's competitors," says Capitols president Andrew Joudrey. "Guys want to play for NHL scouts and colleges and what-not, but at the end of the day, it was easily the right move."
The USHL board of directors voted unanimously to end the season on March 18th. The Capitols staff scrambled to help their teenage players make it home. Five members of the roster had to catch international flights.
"Nobody saw this coming. It was kind of heartbreaking because for me, personally, juniors is over," says forward Stepan Pokorny from his home in the Czech Republic.
Pokorny, like many of his teammates, is now stuck at home waiting for the next step in his hockey career and trying his best to keep in playing shape.
"I was shooting pucks the other day, and I actually broke a window," chuckle Pokorny. "So, my dad isn't let me shoot anymore."
Meanwhile, the organization is adjusting budgets to account for the loss of five home games.
"It's definitely a hit. We spent three days going through budgets and really just trying to tread water through the summer. A credit to our ownership group keeping everybody on full-time," says Joudrey.
Financially, the franchise was on an upswing since renovating Bob Suter's Capitol Ice Arena. They averaged 1,973 fans this past season. That was a five percent increase from last season. So, Joudrey sees reason for optimism even in these trying times.
"Our league commissioner calls it blocking and tackling. It's just day-by-day doing the little things, continuing to grow."