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.