48 in 24 Series: La Crosse Freeze
August 20, 2016
The 48 in 24 series will feature an in-depth look into all 48 teams in the NA3HL for the 2016-17 season, with new teams being highlighted daily, leading all the way up until the start of the regular season. 48 in 24 goes in-depth into each NA3HL team and will include interviews with all 48 head coaches in the NA3HL, as they provide fans with their expectations and outlook for the 2016-17 season, including taking a look at their potential roster and their strengths as a team for the upcoming season. It will also take a look back on the 2015-16 season and how each team fared and what they accomplished. Best of all, 48 in 24 will provide the fans of the NA3HL with an inside look at their favorite team and what to expect.
La Crosse Freeze
2015-16 Record: 32-15-0, 64 points (2nd in Central Division)
2015-16 Playoffs: Lost to the North Iowa Bulls in the Central Finals, 2-0
Head Coach: Rob Hodnicki
2016-17 Division: Central
Rob Hodnicki, new head coach of the La Crosse Freeze, recently came off of two years coaching ACHA Division I Adrian College, and was the runner up for the ACHA Division 1 Coach of the Year. This is following the advancement of last year’s Freeze head coach, Ryan Egan, who was named to new head coach of the NAHL’s Coulee Region Chill.
The Freeze are coming off a solid season, finishing second in their division before being defeated by the North Iowa Bulls in the division finals. Hodnicki hopes to ride the wave of last years success, and relies on the strength of the core of returning veterans during the 2016-17 season. With the goal in mind of individual improvement daily, Hodnicki states that, “if we push ourselves to get better at something each day it will translate to team success.”
At the conclusion of the 2015-16 season, La Crosse had six alumni going on to play at Divison III schools, such as Gustavus Adolphus College, Saint Mary’s University, Lawrence University, and Milwaukee School of Engineering.
With only one returning defenseman, the Freeze has spent a lot of offseason time working to improve defensively. Although both veteran goalies, Will Graves and Andrew Wagner, are returning and will provide solid goaltending, Hodnicki feels they have a chosen a solid defense of new players. Returning forwards Danny Toycen, Dylan Goggin, Hunter Dolan and JP Eykyn will be expected to produce, as well as a plethora of fresh talent.
Coach Hodnicki sees the growth in the NA3HL as a really positive sign. “Anytime you can add teams of the caliber that the NA3HL were able to add it's a good thing. It means the talent is growing, and more players are able to pursue their goals and play at a high level.” For the Freeze, though, increased competition is not an important factor, and Hodnicki is excited for the increased exposure the 48-team NA3HL will bring to his players.
Throughout Coach Rodnicki’s philosophy: Be Better Everyday. With this in mind, he hopes to propel the Freeze to success - both on the ice and off, both as players and as individuals. This mindset, combined with team and individual leadership training, skill development with focus on weaknesses, and tape reviewing, will allow players to be their best. For him, a day without improvement is not a good day.
On a team level, the Freeze’ goal is the same as any other - to win the Silver Cup. On a smaller scale, individual, daily improvements can lead the team in the right direction.
Off the ice, the Freeze often coordinates events within their own community. The team works to complete as many community service events as possible, instilling the importance of giving back to the community and assisting the less fortunate when possible. The Freeze has a large fan base, which can be partially contributed to their involvement in the community.
The La Crosse Freeze kick off the 2016-17 season with a double header against the Wisconsin Whalers, beginning September 16th. The first game will take place at the Oregon Ice Arena at 7:30 PM, while the second will be on September 17th at 7:00 PM at the Green Island Ice Arena, the Freeze’ home ice.
Next up in the 48 in 24 series: Lockport Express