Delta captain Alec Scouras (14) reacts in the foreground as Whaler Zac Sherwin (16) celebrates his empty-netter Mar. 7. | Photo courtesy of Alistair Burns, White Rock Whalers.
Whalers lead series 2-0
LADNER LEISURE CENTRE – A few months ago, talented winger Zac Sherwin left the Whalers for the Jr. ‘A’ Langley Rivermen. A crucial question arose: who would step up to score?
Now – since he’s returned to the Pod – the ironic answer is Zac Sherwin himself. The veteran Whaler lit the lamp twice and added an assist to guide White Rock to a 4-2 victory in game two of the Shaw Conference Final Mar. 7.
“I don’t think there’s a harder-working guy on the ice for either team,” White Rock head coach Jason Rogers said. Zac’s “going every night, every minute, every shift.”
The Whalers now lead the Delta Ice Hawks 2-0 in the best-of-seven series.
Off the opening face-off, Sherwin won a race to a loose puck down the left wing and drew a Delta defenceman to him. The winger then fired a precise tape-to-tape pass to hustling teammate Chris Fortems.
Chaos ensues in the White Rock crease while Whaler goalie Keegan Maddocks tracks the puck in the first period Mar. 7. He faced 50 shots for his fifth play-off win this spring. | Photo courtesy of Alistair Burns, White Rock Whalers.
Fortems showed grace under pressure and picked the top corner past Delta goalie Braedy Euerby. It was White Rock’s first shot of the game.
The Whalers consistently frustrated the Ice Hawk forwards from employing their vaunted three-man forecheck. Instead, the White Rock defensive corps kept calm and either pivoted to skate with the puck out of their own end when there was open ice, or made short passes.
‘Monster save’ Maddocks
In the second period, Ice Hawk Dominic Passalacqua-Main put home a rebound past Whaler goalie Keegan Maddocks to tie the game. But Maddocks faced a total of 50 Delta shots and picked up his fifth playoff victory for the Pod.
“Keegan was the player of the game for us,” Rogers said. When the Ice Hawks strung together a few successful shifts, “he battened down the hatches” and came cross-crease to make a “monster save.”
Delta goalie Braedy Euerby uses his blocker for a save while Whaler Ewan Rennie reacts to the rebound. | Photo courtesy of Alistair Burns, White Rock Whalers.
No school like the old school
Halfway through the middle frame, Whaler Sam Dowell performed an increasingly rare play at the side boards. He upended an Ice Hawk with an old school hip check.
The Whalers pressed hard in the final 20 minutes. Fortems returned the favour to Sherwin for the for a rebound goal only 44 seconds into the third and a 2-1 lead.
Six minutes later, as White Rock was shorthanded, alternate captain Matt Burry exploited a peculiar weakness for the Ice Hawks on the man advantage: their defenceman oddly stop skating for loose pucks near centre ice.
Similar to Travis Smythe’s shorthanded goal in the first game of the series, Burry picked up the puck and deked past both Delta defenders.
Whaler Matt Burry coolly goes to his backhand and scores Mar. 7. It was the second game in a row that White Rock has lit the lamp while shorthanded. | Photo courtesy of Alistair Burns, White Rock Whalers.
His backhand shot slipped through Euerby’s five-hole for the game-winner.
“It’s huge,” Rogers said. “It’s always a positive when you can get a shorthanded goal.”
New hardest-working man in show business
In the last minute, with Euerby on the bench for a Delta extra attacker, Sherwin buried an empty-netter and leaped for joy into the side boards.
Up in Jr. ‘A’, Sherwin learned to “work hard for every opportunity.” When he came back to White Rock, “all the boys were back together. We took one shift at a time.”