Degenhardt era ends in La Crosse

Chill fall in Game 4, Fairbanks takes series 3-1

After a slow regular season start, Coulee Region Head Coach AJ Degenhardt got what he asked for out of his final team in La Crosse.

The Chill took a U-turn and ended the regular season by tying a franchise-best mark with 33 wins and clinching its second straight Robertson Cup Playoff birth.

“I can’t say enough about this team’s finish this year,” Degenhardt said. “Obviously, we want to win a championship but at the end of the day there is only one team that can do that.”

The playoffs started with the performance Degenhardt waited for all season. Up against Cup favorite Fairbanks and a raucous Ice Dogs crowd, the Chill racked up six goals in a 6-1 Game 1 win.

The tide of the series quickly shifted back to Fairbanks in Games 2 and 3, where penalty issues and a lone Chill goal gave the Ice Dogs a 2-1 series lead heading back to Green Island Ice arena.

The Chill’s chances grew slimmer after top scorer Dominik Florian learned a separated shoulder meant his series was done. Friday night, the season and Degenhardt’s run on the bench ended with a 4-1 Game 4 loss.

“I think this organization is in a good spot right now, and you know what?  I wouldn’t be surprised if Fairbanks wins it all.”

After the loss, Degenhardt let the organization know how tough it is to leave for another coaching opportunity with a top-youth program in Illinois.

“It’s been awesome, obviously, it is a thrill for me. I grew up playing in this rink and for us to be able to move into here and to come back to my home rink that I played so many games in… to get a chance to coach guys that want to play college hockey was amazing.  I am sure Ryan (Egan) is going to do a great job with the team here and I look forward to following them in the future.”