Tag Archives: NA3HL

La Crosse Wins First Central Division Title, Advance to Fraser Cup Tournament

It took four seasons but the La Crosse Freeze can finally call themselves Central Division Champions.

Coming into the 2017-18 hockey season the Freeze knew who they’d have a tough road to division glory with. Having a young team and new head coach in Jon Vaillancourt, it wasn’t going to be easy. Consistently it’s been the Freeze and the Wisconsin Whalers vying for a shot at the North Iowa Bulls in the middle of March for division supremacy. The past two years La Crosse had their shot only to come up short.

This year was different even with what was a revamped roster and new head coach. From the first puck drop in September to just 2:03 into the overtime game against North Iowa, the Freeze looked determined to finally supplant the Bulls for their own opportunity at a league title.

And they got the job done.

Coach Vaillancourt has a whole team to credit, including himself and assistant coach Oak Moser. But he can look to veteran goalie Will Graves for his great play in net first on the road in the hostile barn in North Iowa to standing tall in the friendly confines of the Green Island Ice Arena.

He can look at offensive leaders like Clayton Lackey and Thomas Magnavite, both of which played big roles through the sweep over North Iowa.

How about Matthew Francois who scored the overtime winning goal to secure La Crosse’s first ever Central Division title Saturday night?

The entire roster is responsible for the opportunity the organization has to fight for their first ever league title, set to begin tomorrow in Romeoville, Illinois.

For the Freeze, they’ll compete as the number seven seed in the eight-team round robin tournament. The schedule is as follows:

2018 Fraser Cup Schedule (all times central)

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

4:00 PM #1 Binghamton vs. #8 Granite City

4:30 PM #4 St. Louis vs. #5 Yellowstone

7:00 PM #2 Metro vs. #7 La Crosse

7:30 PM #3 Texas vs. #6 New England

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

2:30 PM #4 St. Louis vs. #8 Granite City

4:30 PM #1 Binghamton vs. #5 Yellowstone

7:10 PM #2 Metro vs. #6 New England

7:30 PM #3 Texas vs. #7 La Crosse

Thursday, March 29, 2018

4:00 PM #5 Yellowstone vs. #8 Granite City

4:30 PM #1 Binghamton vs. #4 St. Louis

7:00 PM #6 New England vs. #7 La Crosse

7:30 PM #2 Metro vs. #3 Texas

Friday, March 30, 2018

2:00 PM Pool A 1st place vs. Pool B 2nd place

5:00 PM Pool B 1st place vs. Pool A 2nd place

Saturday – March 31, 2018

1:30 PM Championship Game

The work isn’t done yet. Five more games are on the horizon for Vaillancourt, Moser and the La Crosse Freeze.

Go Freeze!

La Crosse marches into playoffs as 2nd seed in Central Division

The last two weekends of NA3HL regular season hockey didn’t end well for the La Crosse Freeze. That doesn’t mean all is lost from an impressive 2017-18 campaign thus far.

Head coach Jon Vaillancourt continues moving forward with the NA3HL Fraser Cup Playoffs starting this Friday night in La Crosse. In his first regular season with the Freeze they took a strong step forward, fighting for the Central Division title late into the season, a feat the organization had yet to do since moving to La Crosse four seasons ago.

When all was said and done Saturday night the Freeze finished with a 34-12-1 (69 points) record, an organization best since their 32-15 record in 2015-16. The 69 points ranks as a tie for 9th across the league.

On the ice it was a great regular season from top to bottom. The Freeze also set franchise records for both goals for and goals against with 240 and 124, respectively.

With the playoffs in sight the regular season is but a memory for Vaillancourt’s squad. Forwards Clayton Lackey and Brady Lindauer, who both set the tone this season offensively en route to setting franchise regular season records for points per game with 1.882 and 1.878, will be two to watch when the puck drops at 7pm against the Wisconsin Whalers.

Speaking of the Whalers, both them and the Freeze are quite familiar with each other when it comes to the playoffs; each of the past three seasons the two teams have faced one another in the first round. Wisconsin prevailed in 2015 but it was La Crosse who moved on to face the North Iowa Bulls the past two seasons. If history proves anything then La Crosse, a #2 seed this year, has the edge as the top seed has won each year.

The boys are looking for a loud Green Island Ice Arena this Friday night! Saturday nights contest will move to Oregon, WI with a third game coming back to Green Island on Sunday, if necessary.

Go Freeze!

Flawless February gives the Freeze a shot for the division title in March

Six up, six down. It was a perfect 6-0 for the La Crosse Freeze in the month of February.

The final full month of the NA3HL regular season started with home games against the Breezy Point North Stars, winning both games 7-1 and 9-1, respectively. The Wisconsin Whalers were up next, Freeze winning taking them both by scores of 5-3 and 5-2. And this past weekend the Freeze had their way with the Rochester Ice Hawks winning games by a scores of 9-1 and 6-0.

The perfect February record is just a blimp on the radar over what’s happened since the start of 2018; La Crosse boasts a 14-1 record since January 1, losing their lone game to the North Iowa Bulls, 1-4.

That one loss proves to be more crucial than some may think. Now just four games until the start of the 2018 Fraser Cup Playoffs, the Freeze are just three points behind the Central Division leading Bulls.

This makes for an ever-crucial series between the two teams in just a week and a half. The two-game set takes place in North Iowa with two of the top teams in the league fighting for a division title.

Go Freeze!

La Crosse keeps rolling with Breezy Point sweep

The season to remember continued this past weekend with the La Crosse Freeze hosting the Breezy Point North Stars. A matchup that many would have assumed would be close turned out to be all Freeze.

Earlier this season the Freeze and North Stars competed in a two-game series in Breezy Point, splitting both games. This time around, in a weekend with the possibility of gaining four points to the North Iowa Bulls in the Central Division, the Freeze showed up in a big way.

 

The series began on Saturday night at the Green Island Ice Arena. From the first drop of the puck that night throughout the whole weekend La Crosse contained any type of attack from Breezy Point, evident by the 7-1 final in game one.

 

The first star of the night was deservedly Brandon Ratzloff, scoring three goals and assisting on another. Matthew Francois scored two of his own while both Brady Lindauer and Thomas Magnavite each finished with two assists. Devin Naidow, playing in just his fifth game since coming to La Crosse from the Nashville Jr. Predators in December, picked up his fourth victory on the season while saving 26/27 shots.

 

Sunday morning didn’t get any easier for the road team. La Crosse, who’ve now won eight straight, scored nine times before Breezy Point managed to crack the board with less than seven minutes remaining.

 

Aside from Alec Seeger’s four goals on the night, the remaining six were spread apart through six different skaters including both Ratzloff (Central Division Star of the Week) and Lindauer (Central Division Honorable Mention). Will Graves got the win in net saving 28/29 shots on the morning.

 

Next up is a home-and-home series against the Wisconsin Whalers; Friday nights game will be at home with Saturday night’s contest moving to Oregon, WI.

 

Go Freeze!

6 Straight and a playoff spot for the Freeze

Things keep clicking for the La Crosse Freeze this season. With another sweep in the books, La Crosse finds themselves at 28-8-1-0 and a secure bid in the 2018 Fraser Cup Playoffs.

Success keeps coming from each spot on the ice. Each group continues to pick up when the one next to them looks to be struggling. What’s hard to miss, however, is offense. Against the Wisconsin Whalers this past weekend the Freeze scored 14 goals to the Whalers’ four, large part behind what this week’s NA3HL Central Division Stars of the Week, Clayton Lackey and Laudon Poellinger, were able to accomplish.

Down 2-1 on Friday night Lackey scored early in the third period to tie the game before Alec Seeger put the Freeze on top for the first time in the game. After Wisconsin tied the game up at three Lackey scored the eventual game-winning goal on a night that he’d score his second consecutive hat trick.

Saturday night Lackey and the Freeze didn’t waste any time; Lackey’s four goals contributed to the nine total La Crosse would eventually score. The remaining five would come from Thomas Magnavite (2), Toon De Schepper, Poellinger, and Jacob Garman.

Will Graves continued his terrific season picking up two wins (now 14-5-0-1 on the year) and saving 57/61 shots on the weekend.

Next up is the Breezy Point North Stars. The two teams faced off earlier this season, splitting the series. This time the two teams will battle it out in La Crosse in a Saturday (7pm) and Super Bowl Sunday (11am) matchup.

Go Freeze!

3 Freeze players called up to NAHL

The La Crosse Freeze, proud members of the NA3HL, are proud to announce that three players have been called up to the North American Hockey League (NAHL).
This past weekend, defenseman Toon De Schepper was called up to the New Jersey Titans in the East Division.
De Schepper, 19, is in his 3rd season with the Freeze in the NA3HL. The 5’10/175 lbs. native of Belgium has 33 points in 90 career NA3HL games, including 24 points this season.
“We are thrilled and excited for Toon to have the opportunity with the New Jersey Titans, Toon has been a key part of our success this season and has taken on a key leadership role within our team. He is having his best season yet in the NA3HL with 24 points in 35 games and a +49,” said GM/Head Coach Jon Vaillancourt.
The Freeze are also pleased to announce that forwards Matthew Francois and Brady Lindauer have been called up this upcoming weekend to the Corpus Christi Ice Rays in the NAHL’s South Division.
Francois, 18, is tied for 2nd in team scoring with Lindauer, who both have 40 points. The 6’0/183 lbs. native of Denver, CO, has 11 goals and 29 assists.
Lindhauer, 19, also has 11 goals and 29 assists for 40 points. The 5’8/165 lbs. native of Cary, IL has six points in his last three games.
“Matthew brings his best every game and that is why he is such a fun player to watch. Corpus Christi style of play is a natural fit for Matthew and I am very thrilled for this opportunity for him,” said Vaillancourt.
“Brady has been outstanding for us, averaging almost two points a game he is on pace to set some new records within our club. His IQ is one of the best I’ve seen in my five years of coaching and I know that he will do very well down with Corpus Christi,” says Coach Jon Vaillancourt.

North Iowa rivalry continues after weekend split

Last year the La Crosse Freeze got over the hump and beat the perennial powerhouse in North Iowa. Head coach Jon Vaillancourt knew coming into 2018 that to compete for the Central Division and Frasier Cup playoffs that he’d have to compete with that Bulls team.

On Friday night in La Crosse the Freeze didn’t look ready to compete. Down four goals it wasn’t until 4:14 remaining that Alec Seeger put the Freeze on the board. Will Graves had 35 total shots but ultimately gave up four in the loss.

Saturday night was a different story, and for multiple reasons. Graves, who picked up a shutout in La Crosse’s first ever franchise victory over North Iowa last season at home, would do so again behind 32 saves and goals from Clayton Lackey and Nathan McComb. This time, however, the shutout took place in North Iowa, a place the Bulls have never been held scoreless in their 7+ years in the league.

The victory is great one for the Freeze veterans that have gone up against their in-division rival multiple times throughout their tenure. It’s a great win for the franchise, Vaillancourt and the fight to win the Central Division in 2018.

Next up the Freeze host the Peoria Mustangs on Thursday (puck drop 7pm) and Friday with a special 12 noon time game.  Then they hit the road on Saturday night to take on the Rochester Ice Hawks. Tickets to see the Freeze at the Green Island Ice Arena are just $5!

Weekend split for La Crosse in Wilmar

The La Crosse Freeze start 2018 firmly in second place in the Central Division standings just 13 points out of first and 19 points above third.

Before looking ahead to next weekend’s 1-2 matchup with the North Iowa Bulls, the Freeze had a date with the Willmar WarHawks. The two teams previously met in October with the Freeze coming away with the sweep at home.

This time La Crosse traveled to Willmar for the first time. The WarHawks utilized that home-ice advantage in the first period on Friday night, jumping out to a 1-0 lead. From there on it was all Freeze scoring four goals in the second and third periods. Brady Lindauer (Matthew Francois) scored first for the freeze before Clayton Lackey (Flavien Fondadouze), Connor Losen (Toon De Schepper) and Zach Hanno (De Schepper) finished it out.

Will Graves took the win, looking tough throughout saving 21/22 shots, the lone goal coming on a penalty shot.

Saturday night’s game looked like two completely different teams on the ice both in terms of scoring and penalties. In the first period La Crosse bested Willmar 2-1 with goals from Laudon Poellinger and Lackey (Lindauer, Francois). In the second Lindauer (Francois, Alec Seeger) gave the Freeze a 3-1 lead before four straight goals into the third period forced La Crosse into comeback mode.

Nathan McComb (Fondadouze) and Brandon Ratzloff (De Schepper) tied the game at five with just over seven minutes remaining but Willmar’s Brandon Holt scored on a power play to clinch the victory.

The night before just three penalties were committed, all by La Crosse. On Saturday night the penalties told the story with six penalties called on the WarHawks and five on the Freeze. Seven of the 11 goals scored were on the power play, four of which were short-handed and three on the power play.

Both Jacob Silverstein and Will Graves both spent time in net, Graves picking up the loss.

The Freeze have a chance to gain ground on the first-place Bulls in a home-and-home this upcoming weekend. Catch the first game at home on Friday night at the Green Island Ice Arena.

Go Freeze!

La Crosse drops final game of NA3HL Showcase to Pittsburgh

It wasn’t the sweep the La Crosse Freeze wanted but it was a solid outing at the 2017 NA3HL Showcase tournament in Blaine, MN.

The Freeze had outscored opponents 10-3 prior to yesterday’s matchup against the Pittsburgh Vengeance, beating the Niagara Falls PowerHawks 8-2 and Great Falls Americans 2-1. In today’s game the Freeze fell to the Vengeance 1-4, the lone La Crosse goal coming from Thomas Magnavite with assists from Nathan Marquardt and Jacob Garman.

Yesterday’s finale in the Showcase marks the end of Freeze hockey for 2017. La Crosse doesn’t suit back up until the January 5th and 6th series against the Wilmar Warhawks. They enter the Christmas/New Years break second in the Central Division standings with 43 points.

Go Freeze!

NA3HL Showcase momentum goes into day three for the Freeze

There was no loss of momentum for head coach Jon Vaillancourt and his La Crosse Freeze team on day two of the NA3HL Showcase. On day one they came into a matchup against the Niagara Falls PowerHawks and took care of business, winning 8-2.

Day two looked to be a tougher matchup against the Great Falls Americans in the competitive Frontier Division. A team that’s found success, the Americans sit at 17-7-2 (36 points) at the midway mark in the season. The Freeze sit slightly ahead of them in the overall standings at 21-5-1 (43 points).

The first period saw little action aside from a Matthew Francois hooking penalty that put the Freeze at man down late in the period. In the second the Freeze had three power play opportunities but it wasn’t until Brandon Ratzloff (Brock Zukowski, Thomas Magnavite) found the back of the net that the Freeze cracked the scoreboard.

The Ratzloff goal came with just six seconds left in the middle frame. They held the 1-0 lead until Great Falls’ Payton McSharry scored at the 14:18 mark. A short minute and 46 seconds later, Francois (Brady Lindauer) made up for his time in the box in the first to give La Crosse the 2-1 and eventual win.

Jacob Silverstein, a second-year goalie for La Crosse, saw just 13 shots but impressed with his time in net giving up just the one goal.

Day three marks the final day of the Showcase for the NA3HL. The Freeze will meet the East Division leading Pittsburgh Vengeance at 12:15pm CT. A lot will be on the line as both teams look to stay perfect and end the annual tournament with a perfect 3-0 record.

Go Freeze!