The new season has continued to get off to a great start for the La Crosse Freeze and first-year head coach Jon Vaillancourt. Coming into this past weekend they sat at 8-3 and on top of the Central Division. And after the weekend they didn’t move an inch, holding a two-point division lead with an 10-3 record.
Last weekends matchup came against a new team to the NA3HL; the Wausau River Wolves, now four games into the season, are a relocated team from Chicago under new ownership.
Friday night’s contest was the first contest between the two Wisconsin teams and it was Wausau that got on the board first at the Green Island Ice Arena just 2:47 into the first period. After that, however, it was all Freeze. La Crosse rallied off five goals in the first from five different players: Clayton Lackey (Keaton Caplis, Brady Lindauer), Lindauer (Lackey, Caplis), Brandon Ratzloff (Lackey, Lindauer), Benjamin Beversdorf (Toon De Schepper, Jake Ziegelbein), and Jacob Garman (Ethan Bettis) all found the back of the net before the end of the first.
From there La Crosse scored three in the second including two from Lackey (Ratzloff, Caplis, Will Bryant, Lindauer) and one from Marcus Tilmon (Brock Zukowski) and two more in the third compliments of Alec Seeger (Ziegelbein) and Lackey (Connor Duncan, Lindauer).
The man in net for the Freeze was Gunner Snyder, a local goalie from La Crosse. He saved 15/16 shots on the night.
Saturday night’s matchup moved Northeast to Wausau. The first was a complete 360 of what happened the previous night; La Crosse jumped on the board first thanks to Tilmon (Lindauer, Laudon Poellinger) but the River Wolves took advantage of jumping on the Freeze quick with three consecutive goals between the 10:18 and 12:34 mark.
The first intermission was a learning point for the Freeze. As they faced their biggest deficit since the October 8th contest against the Willmar WarHawks, La Crosse came out firing in the second scoring four goals from four different skaters. De Schepper, Lindauer (Seeger, Ryan Gargaro), Seeger (Ratzloff) and Duncan (Caleb Beversdorf) gave the Freeze a 5-3 lead into the 2nd intermission. Lindauer (Poellinger, De Schepper) and Lackey (Seeger, Lindauer) finished the scoring off for La Crosse as they won their eighth straight game.
Koby Lukehart got the call in net for La Crosse on Saturday night and saved 10/13 shots for his second win of the season.
This weekend will look similar to last as the River Wolves come to La Crosse Friday night before the two teams switch places Saturday night. Puck drops at 7pm and 7:10pm on Friday and Saturday night, respectively.