Conference Final | Game 1: Rennie’s Great Escape

Whaler goalie Keegan Maddocks dove all over the crease and made 43 saves for his third play-off win. | Photo courtesy of Alistair Burns, White Rock Whalers.

Whalers rally in double OT

CENTENNIAL ARENA – When Delta’s Conner Merriman crashed the net for a hat trick – and tying goal – with only 10 seconds left in the third period, grim faces abounded on the White Rock bench.

Those frowns turned upside down in the second overtime. Whaler Ewan Rennie deposited a rebound past Ice Hawk goalie Braedy Euerby to send the Centennial faithful into a frenzy as the Whalers jumped off the bench for a team bear hug.

Rennie’s team-leading sixth postseason goal ensured that the Pod escaped with a 4-3 victory in the first game of the Tom Shaw Conference Final.

And it truly was a great escape for White Rock. The Whalers had a 3-1 lead wiped out due to penalty trouble halfway through the third. Delta had a 5-on-3 advantage for 75 seconds; Conner Merriman scored his second of the night during that stretch.

Whaler winger Jayson Beauregard in warm-up Mar. 5. He scored the Pod's first goal in the first game of the conference final. | Photo courtesy of Alistair Burns, White Rock Whalers.

‘Mature group’

Meanwhile, Pod goalie Keegan Maddocks stayed cool under pressure. He made 43 stops and constantly dove all over the crease for his third playoff win.

The Whalers have now three overtime wins – and no losses – during this postseason run.

“We’re a mature group,” said White Rock head coach Jason Rogers. He recalled how the Whalers faced the same situation when they surrendered a two-goal lead against the top regular season team, the North Vancouver Wolf Pack, in the first round of the playoffs.

In that situation, the Pod also won in sudden-death. “We were the better team and found a way to score in overtime,” Rogers added.

Best yet to come

In the second period, the floodgates opened for the Whalers when Jayson Beauregard tied the game 1-1 off a feed from alternate captain Matt Burry.

While the Pod was shorthanded, teammate Travis Smythe alertly shifted his skating stride to collect the puck off the glass. He gathered speed at centre ice and deked around two Ice Hawks to burst in on a breakaway.

Smythe roofed the puck and beat Euerby on his glove side for a 2-1 lead. It was Smythe’s second of the play-offs after he did not light the lamp during the regular season.

Whaler centreman Jacob Dorohoy finished off a pass from Ryden Mathieson to put the Pod up 3-1. | Photo courtesy of Alistair Burns, White Rock Whalers.

“Hopefully there’s more to come,” Smythe said. “I’m just going to battle out there and it doesn’t matter who scores.”

Rogers was impressed by Smythe’s determination. “Travis made this team out of nowhere based on his work ethic,” he said.

Overall, White Rock went scoreless on two powerplay opportunities and Delta went 1-for-7 with the man advantage.