"We want our NA3HL team to be an extension of our Chill brand and to have the primary focus of player development," said Bryant. "We not only want to develop players to have the opportunity to play for the Chill NAHL club, but also any club in the NAHL or upper levels of junior hockey."
Chill Coach A.J. Degenhardt tells WXOW that the move is a "Good opportunity to grow the Chill brand and a good opportunity to expand local hockey in the La Crosse area. The NA3HL is a good option for kids to keep playing after their high schoool careers with the goal of reaching Division III hockey. In rare cases, some of the kids can reach the Division I level. He added, "While the Freeze won't be a direct feeder program for the Chill, they can still call kids up from that program and give kids an option if things don't work out with the Chill."
The Freeze are a Tier 3 level team, while the Chill play in Tier 2.
According to a release from the NA3HL, the Freeze will play their games out of the Green Island Ice Arena. The team expects to name a head coach by the end of the week.
Due to the move, the league plans to restructure their divisional structure prior to the start of the season. A team from the Quad Cities recently moved to Wisconsin to become the Madison Whalers.
Dates for the team's games weren't announced.
NEWS RELEASE FROM THE TEAM:
Flint Junior Generals move to Wisconsin and become the La Crosse Freeze
FRISCO, TEXAS - The North American 3 Hockey League (NA3HL) has announced that its Board of Governors has approved the sale and relocation of the Flint Junior Generals membership to La Crosse, Wisconsin for the 2014-15 season. The team will be known as the La Crosse Freeze and will be under the ownership of Michelle Bryant, who also is the Owner and Governor for the NAHL's Coulee Region Chill based out of Onalaska, Wisconsin. The sale and relocation was also approved by USA Hockey in April.
The La Crosse Freeze will play out of Green Island Ice Arena in La Crosse, Wisconsin. The team has not yet named a head coach, although several have been interviewed and an announcement is expected by the end of the week.
Bryant indicated that the Freeze will partner with their NAHL club, the Coulee Region Chill, which plays about 15-20 minutes away at the Onalaska Omni Center. "We want our NA3HL team to be an extension of our Chill brand and to have the primary focus of player development," said Bryant. "We not only want to develop players to have the opportunity to play for the Chill NAHL club, but also any club in the NAHL or upper levels of junior hockey."
Bryant continued..."We had many serious injuries this season with our NAHL team that having players in our system already will be very significant. Having an NA3HL team in La Crosse will only help to grow awareness of hockey in the Coulee Region area."
Because of the move westward, the team, who played in the East Division in the NA3HL last season, will now play in the Central Division as the La Crosse Freeze in 2014-15. A final NA3HL Divisional alignment will be announced on a later date.
"We have had multiple success stories now of common ownership operating both an NAHL and an NA3HL teams and we are confident that the La Crosse Freeze will fall into that category. This relocation to Wisconsin provides hockey players an ideal platform and opportunity to develop and great entertainment for local fans," said NA3HL President Mark Frankenfeld. "La Crosse has a committed and dedicated owner in Michelle Bryant, who has the expertise and drive to make it a success."
Chill season and flex ticket holders will gain free admission to the Freeze games while all other tickets will be available for $5. "We as an organization feel that this will open up opportunities to a large population of people in La Crosse that may have not ever been to a junior hockey game before," said Bryant.
About the NA3HL
Now entering its fifth season, the North American 3 Hockey League (NA3HL), one of six USA Hockey-sanctioned Tier III Junior leagues, serves as one of the top training grounds in the country by providing the best coaching, exposure and developmental vehicles available for student-athletes in its classification. The primary mission of the NA3HL, which is managed organizationally by the North American Hockey League (NAHL), is to provide a structured developmental environment for student-athletes whose youth options are limited but are still reaching their potential and have aspirations of playing in the NAHL or United States Hockey League and eventually the NCAA or American College Hockey Association. For more information, visitwww.na3hl.com