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USHL | CLARK CUP PLAYOFFS

Madison Capitols clinch USHL Eastern Conference bid to Clark Cup Final

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MUSKEGON, Mich. — The Madison Capitols put the pedal to the metal late Thursday night that led to an 8-4 win over Muskegon in the decisive Game 5 of the USHL Eastern Conference Final at Mercy Health Arena. 

With the win, the Capitols are in the Clark Cup Final for the first time in franchise history. 

Madison scored five times in the third period to clinch the pennant and set up a championship series against Sioux City that starts at home Sunday. 

Muskegon got on the board first, as Joey Larson scored at the 8-minute, 3-second mark in the first period. 

Madison then reeled six straight goals, including three in the second period. Tyler Hastings, Richard Hart and Jack Musa scored those three Capitols goals.

Hastings' and Hart's goals came in the first two-and-a-half minutes of the second period, while Musa's lamp-lighter came at the 9:30 mark. 

Musa has seven goals during the playoff stretch. He also scored in the third period. 

Raid Pabich and Luke Middlestadt also contributed to the Madison six-goal streak to start the third period. All six goals came during 5-on-5 play. 

Muskegon then reeled off two goals in a four-minute period, thanks to goals from Jacob Braccini and Ben Strinden. Strinden's goal came on a power-play chance. 

Pabich came back 28 seconds following Strinden's goal to score the seventh goal for the Capitols. 

Muskegon's Owen Mehlenbacher scored with 4:22 left in the game, and that was a power-play goal. 

Madison capped the scoring with a Kyle Kukkonen on an empty net chance with 2:47 to go. 

Madison outshot Muskegon 41-32. 

This will be the first time the Capitols and Musketeers have played one another since Oct. 12, 2019. 

Game 1 and Game 2 are both in Sioux City, with Sunday's puck drop at 3:05 p.m. and at 7:05 p.m. Monday. 

Games 3 and 4 are Friday and Saturday at Capitol Ice Arena in Middleton, Wis. 

Game 5 would be in Sioux City. 

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“Now we need just one more win to finish them off,” said forward Ben Steeves, who scored twice in the win on Saturday. “I think we know what we need to do rest-wise. Maybe get some shut-eye on the way home. Then on Monday, we’ll get a quick rip, be sharp as we always are, and on Tuesday, we come ready. We have to have more energy.”

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