Ice Hawk Yuji Akimoto (22) hems in Whaler defenceman Ty Fletcher (6) Mar. 7. Akimoto scored shorthanded in a 4-1 Delta win. | Photo courtesy of David Stevens Photography.
2023 Tom Shaw Conference Final a repeat of last year
LADNER LEISURE CENTRE – It took a mere 16 seconds for Delta’s Henry Smith to let the White Rock Whalers know that he hadn’t forgotten about last year’s Shaw Conference Final loss.
Smith’s shot beat Whaler goalie Mark Paton early and the Ice Hawks went on to a 4-1 victory in
Game 1 of the Tom Shaw Conference final in the Ladner Leisure Centre Mar. 7.
After Smith’s effort, Ice Hawk teammate Carson Hemenway struck with a powerplay marker for the game-winner three minutes into the middle frame.
Whalers woeful on special teams
The Pod’s top line connected as Cole Svendson and captain Chris Fortems set up Zach Sherwin to put the Whalers on the board.
“We just couldn’t take advantage of our chances and needed to get more shots on net,” Sherwin said.
For the rest of the series, Sherwin thought that the Whalers will have to “wear (Delta) down” by capitalizing on “rebounds and grade ‘A’ opportunities.”
“I still like our chances of winning it all this year,” he added.
Delta put Game 1 out of reach when defenceman Yuji Akimoto scored shorthanded and Austin Kofler added another goal on the man advantage.
The Ice Hawks put 42 shots on White Rock’s Paton, who was tagged with his second postseason loss and was pulled with 88 seconds remaining. Back-up goalie Evan Paul took care of the rest.
Meanwhile, the Whalers only fired 27 pucks at Ice Hawk starter Zach Shaughnessy. The Pod went 0-for-3 on the powerplay while Delta fared better at a 2-for-7 rate.
The end of the game featured some bad blood as Whaler Braydon Clark picked up a game misconduct. It was the former Prince Albert Raider’s third penalty of the game.
Home sweet home
Now, the Whalers have an early chance to draw even as the series shifts to Centennial Arena on March 11. Last season, the Pod went a perfect six wins and no losses on the smaller ice surface before a short-term move to the South Surrey Arena.
Whaler veteran forward Kaz Yamazaki “can’t wait for Game 2” as he knows every inch of ice in Centennial. “Using our small sheet of ice can be used to our advantage.”
Alternate captain Bryce Margetson concurred as the Ice Hawks won’t be able to “gain speed as easily.”
“It’s a long series, and we’re not giving up.”
POST GAME AUDIO with Coach Rogers and Chris Fortems
"You can't say enough about Chris. He stepped up to the challenge of taking a leadership role as captain," head coach Jason Rogers said of Chris Fortems.
Live Audio with Coach Rogers
David Moody and Travis Smythe are just "huge guys on the PK that give us energy," Whalers captain Chris Fortems said of the Pod's unsung heroes.