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BARRAGE OF 3RD PERIOD GOALS LIFTS CAPS OVER U17s IN SERIES OPENER

By Madison Capitols, 12/03/21, 11:45PM CST

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The Madison Capitols improve to 12-6-2 on the season after using a trio of third period goals to down the U17s of Team USA 6-3 tonight at Bob Suter's Capitol Ice Arena.

Anaheim Ducks draft pick and Capitols forward Kyle Kukkonen got things started early tonight when he put home a loose puck out front to give the Caps a 1-0 lead just 3:22 into the game. Madison defenseman Ben Dexheimer and forward Barrett Brooks were credited with the helpers. Tied at 1-1, captain Jack Horbach fed forward Jake Dunlap and the left winger buried an absolute beauty of a backhand on a breakaway to put the Caps up 2-1 at 13:04 of the first period. DJ Hart nabbed the secondary assist. 1:26 later, Caps centerman Matt McGroarty made a great play sneaking down into the slot after covering the blueline and fired home a quick shot from the slot. McGroaty's goal was assisted by Jared Mangan and Jake Dunlap.

After a scoreless second period for the Capitols, they would be deadlocked at 3 apiece with the U17s until Kyle Kukkonen decided to change that. Kukkonen fired home his second lamp lighter of the night into a yawning net after receiving a gorgeous cross ice pass defenseman Nick Wallace. Kukkonen's goal would  go on to be the game winner for this evenings contest. Horbach was tabbed with the secondary assist. Madison would get some insurance in the form of Reid Pabich when he buried a backhander with 2:29 left in regulation to give the Caps a 5-3 lead. The play was made possible when blueliner Blake Dangos moved the puck up the Brendan Lamb who then made a fantastic pass to get the puck to Pabich who did the rest. To top off the night, Barrett Brooks took advantage of a turnover in the neutral zone to score on an empty net for his first career USHL goal. Horbach tallied his third assist of the night on the ENG.

"With the adversity that we're dealing with right now in our locker room with injuries, that game could have easily gone the other way but our guys stuck with it, they stuck with the game plan and they battled," Caps bench boss Tom Upton said. "That was a culture win I thought and that's a complete testament to the guys for bearing down and finding a way to win.

The line of Jack Horbach, Reid Pabich and Kyle Kukkonen had a combined six points with a +12 rating. Both Horbach and Kukkonen finished the night with multi-point games and a +4 rating. Barrett Brooks and Jake Dunlap joined Horbach and Kukkonen with a multi-point game this evening.

The Caps will have a bit of a bigger challenge tomorrow night when they put the wraps on the weekend against the U18s of Team USA. Puck drop slated for 7:05 p.m.

12/3/21 Capitols vs Team USA U17s Highlights