MIDDLETON (WKOW) -- The Madison Capitols Hockey Club used two words to announce its return on Monday: "We're Back."
The USHL team opted out of the 2020-2021 season due to Dane County's restrictions when it came to hosting events and fans. Now, after a long year of waiting, the Capitols will be back on the ice.
Newly-hired head coach and general manager Tom Upton came on board in 2020 but has yet to make his head coaching debut. Despite having unexpected down time, Upton made the most of the situation.
"We were focused every day on continuing as an organization and continuing to build our team and winning hockey games," said Upton, a UW-Stevens Point alum. "Even though, it's great here to announce it, that work still has not stopped."
Spring 2020 was the last time fans were in the stands at Suter's Capitol Ice Arena. The eased restrictions will allow fans to slowly, but surely return for the 2021-2022 season.
"A lot of the leg work will be on the front office side of things. It's setting schedules promotions, ticket packages, experiences," said team president Andrew Joudrey. "All of the things that we've kind of taken in this quiet time to prepare for."
Joudrey is also shooting for goals that go beyond the rink.
"Working with the local non-profits we partner with. Spending a ton of time with the local youth hockey players. And doing our best to grow the game at a -- it sounds cheesy but at a grassroots level."
From there, Joudrey wants to help players make a big local leap.
"We want them to be Madison Capitols and then Wisconsin Badgers."
All players will remain on the Capitols 2021-2022 roster after being dispersed to other leagues or USHL teams to develop their skills. The team is also preparing for the Phase I and Phase II USHL draft later this month.