La Crosse Freeze
2014-15 Record: 28-14-5, 61 pts. (3rd in the Central Division)
2014-15 Playoffs: Lost to Wisconsin in the Central Division Semi-Finals, 2-0
Head Coach: Ryan Egan
2015-16 Division: Central
Of all the divisions last year to feature a tight race, the Central Division may have taken the cake. In thick of that was race were the first-year La Crosse Freeze. The Freeze got a late start, not getting things in place until June of 2014, but that didn’t matter as head coach Ryan Egan put together a winning formula on the ice. The Freeze finished just two points out of 1st place in the Central Division, but ended up 3rd in the standings. A tough playoffs series against the Wisconsin Whalers lie ahead and despite getting swept, the season was a success.
“There was a lot to feel good about last season because we got a late start, but it was a tremendous success on and off the ice. We were very happy with the type of player we were able to recruit and develop and it gave us confidence for this year,” said La Crosse head coach Ryan Egan.
The team was a little bit of a juggernaut on the ice as they were one of only two teams in the NA3HL to win at least 20 games on the road, but they were three games under .500 at home. “I think when dealing with a new team, there is a certain amount of control you have of them while they are on the road and with a group with little experience, I think that they adapted well to being together and having a routine. I think our building can be a tough place to play, but I think that last year’s personalities were better equipped to life on the road,” said Egan.
The Freeze have a good nucleus of defensive players returning to the roster in 2015-16, but Egan said it was an area he wanted to make even stronger in the off-season. However, getting some offense up front was the team’s biggest concern because of the loss of the likes of Hunter Smith. “We want to improve on last season. We were right there in the end last year to win the division. We have some veteran leadership and aren’t scrambling this year, so I think we are ahead of the game,” said Egan.
The Freeze are staying in the Central Division, but it will look a lot different this season with the additions of the defending National Champion North Iowa Bulls, along with the Rochester Ice Hawks. “We didn’t get into this situation just to be an average team, so I welcome the new competition in our division because from top to bottom it may be the strongest in the league. If we want to be the best, we have to beat the best and our division is solid from top to bottom,” said Egan.
The Freeze have a veteran squad returning led by Taylor Trapp, who led the team in scoring last season with 49 points. Daniel Toycen (28 points) also returns as do defensemen Jared Bromberg, Justin Edwards, Hunter Breza and Alex Rickoff. Andrew Wagner also returns with a veteran presence in goal.