2016-17 season ends for La Crosse

After taking down the Wisconsin Whalers, the Freeze were tasked with advancing past the defending champion North Iowa Bulls. The best-of-3 series began on the Bulls’ home ice in a heated battle where momentum shifted back and forth most of the game. Connor Losen (2) (Anderson) (Motloch, Schultz) and Lukas Motloch (Schultz, Losen) had scored for the Freeze to keep the score even before a goal late in the second period put North Iowa up 4-3. The Bulls scored in the middle of the third and held the Freeze offense in check as the Bulls stout defense never allowed double-digit shots on goal in any period. Will Graves dropped to 0-2 on the postseason with no answer to North Iowa’s dominant offense.

Facing elimination, the Freeze returned to La Crosse Saturday night ready to fight for their season’s livelihood. Brendan Elliott (Motloch, Schultz) opened the scoring at the end of the first period to put the Freeze up. A shorthanded goal in the second from the Bulls tied the game before a pressure-filled third period. North Iowa took the lead early before Donny Schultz evened the score with the help of Connor Losen’s 5th assist in as many games. Special teams proved to be the difference as a Bulls power play goal was too much for the Freeze to overcome late as they fell 3-2.

The Freeze finished second in the NA3HL’s Central Division with a 23-22-2 final record. Sam Dabrowski led the Freeze in scoring with 47 points (21 G, 26 A) in 46 games followed by JP Eykyn with 43 (17 G, 26 A) and Tyler Briley at 42 (21 G, 22 A). The La Crosse group was led in goals by Hunter Dolan with 22 and in assists by hometown-product Connor Losen with 28.

In the net for the Freeze Will Graves ended the season with a GAA 3.06 and .906 save percent. Graves finished the season at 6-7. Andrew Wagner went 6-5, allowing an average of 3.2 goals per game and putting up a .904 save percentage. Freeze, rookie Jacob Silverstein went 10-4-1 letting in 3.21 goals per game and falling just below .9 with a .893 save percentage.