La Crosse Freeze 3, Wisconsin Whalers 2
The first game of the 2016 Silver Cup Playoffs between the Freeze and Whalers was the definition of back-and-forth throughout.
Daniel Toycen (Taylor Trapp, Patrick Gazich assisted) kicked things off for the Freeze in the first five minutes to jump on top of the Whalers but Wisconsin’s Ben Ratner answered just over five minutes later to tie the game at one heading into the second.
The 2nd period was all Freeze as Ben Henderson (Mick Nisbet, JP Eykyn) put in the only goal of the period as the Freeze played smart hockey staying out of the penalty box.
Wisconsin tied it back up at two early in the 3rd period but it was determined to be La Crosse’s game to lose. After an Eykyn hooking call sent him to the box at the 8:14 mark in the period, the Freeze faced the Whalers power-play offense for only the second time all game. With the task of killing off the penalty to salvage the tie and keep Wisconsin at two, the Freeze didn’t lose their offensive mindset as Nisbet (Henderson) beat Max McConnell short handed to give the Freeze a 3-2 lead at the midway point in the final frame.
The Nibset goal would be the game winner as the Freeze took game one from the Whalers. Will Graves got the call in net and played tough throughout, saving 34/36 shots. McConnell got the loss after saving 28/31.
La Crosse Freeze 5, Wisconsin Whalers 1
Game two took place at the home rink for the Whalers in Oregon, WI as Wisconsin faced a must-win situation to extend the series to three games and a win meant an opportunity to advance the the 2nd round of the playoffs for a Freeze. The home-ice advantage looked like it may be the difference as the Whalers got on the board first in the last two minutes of the 1st period.
The 2nd, much like the night before, was all Freeze as Reid Brown (Matt Wolter, Toycen) finally put the Freeze on the board 5:01 into the period. Things were quiet the rest of the middle frame as the two teams were knotted at one heading into the 3rd.
Thursday nights’ here Nisbet (Henderson, Alex Rickoff) broke the tie 3:12 into the 3rd in what would eventually be his second consecutive game-winning goal of the series. Brady Thiering (Noah Hallbeck, Jared Bromberg), Brown (Ben Johnson, Hallbeck), and Johnson (Trapp, Same Wenner) would all add to what would be a flurry of goals in the final period. Graves was given the nod in net for the 2nd consecutive night and got the win saving 25/26 shots.
With the sweep over the Whalers the Freeze advanced to the 2nd round of the Silver Cup Playoffs. After knowing their fate last Friday night the Freeze awaited the winner of the North Iowa Bulls/Rochester Ice Hawks series; with a sweep over the Ice Hawks it’ll be a 1 vs. 2 matchup with the Freeze taking on the Bulls.
The schedule for round two is as follows:
Game 1: Friday (3/25) @ North Iowa, 7:30pm
Game 2: Saturday (3/26) @ La Crosse, 7pm
Game 3 (if necessary): Sunday (3/27) @ North Iowa, 7:30pm
Tickets for Saturdays game in La Crosse will not be available for pre-sale. Doors to the arena will open at 5:30pm Saturday afternoon, tickets only $5 at arrival.