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PJHL Ray Stonehouse Cup | Game 2: Langley Leads By A Brace

Whaler Ryden Mathieson pressures Langley goalie Taje Gill to cover the puck Mar. 20. The Trappers hung on to defeat the Pod 4-2. | Photo courtesy of Alistair Burns, White Rock Whalers.

Whalers ‘have to bear down and score’

GEORGE PRESTON RECREATION CENTRE – A lack of mojo, grit, puck luck, or bounces. Regardless of the hockey terminology, the White Rock Whalers need to regain their confidence – and soon.

After a 4-2 loss in Game 2 of the Pacific Junior Hockey League (PJHL) Ray Stonehouse Cup final, White Rock is now down 2-0 in the best-of-seven series to the Langley Trappers.

While the Trappers coolly dispatched a resurgent Whaler side, White Rock almost forced overtime in the last minute of play Mar. 20.

With Pod goalie Keegan Maddocks pulled for an extra attacker, four teammates crashed Langley netminder Taje Gill’s crease.

Whaler Cole Svendson (62) was dangerous all afternoon but Trapper netminder Taje Gill was able to deflect the puck to the corner. | Photo courtesy of Alistair Burns, White Rock Whalers.

But Gill kept calm amidst the frantic action and pounced on the loose puck – one of 22 shots he faced. The Trappers went on to score an empty-netter.

“Large periods of the game, we were out-competed, out-worked,” said White Rock head coach Jason Rogers. “We haven’t lost two games in a row all playoffs. We’re going back home and we need to be better.”

Whalers down early

The Trappers scored on their first shot. After the opening face-off, Lleyton Shearon skated hard to the White Rock crease and redirected the puck past Maddocks.

However, the Whalers regained confidence two minutes later when Zac Sherwin made a pass in the slot to Cole Svendson.

Rookie Whaler defenceman Caleb Cruz (4, middle) receives a hug from Bryce Margetson (7) after Cruz scored from the point. | Photo courtesy of Alistair Burns, White Rock Whalers.

For the second game in a row, “Big Goal” Cole earned his nickname as he picked the top corner over Langley netminder Taje Gill.

Later in the first, veteran Whaler Sam Dowell jumped onto the ice and streaked in on a 2-on-1. Gill steered Dowell’s one timer away.

Both teams exchanged powerplay chances but did not score with the extra man. White Rock went 0-for-3; Langley 0-for-4.

The Trappers took the lead via defenceman Kyle Graham’s point shot that beat a screened Maddocks. Again, the Whalers responded when Dowell set up rookie defender Caleb Cruz for his second of the postseason.

Only 45 seconds later, Langley’s Anthony Bosnjak snapped a rebound home for the 3-2 lead.

Whaler Zach Sherwin missed by inches to bank the puck in off Langley goalie Taje Gill, who was turned the wrong way. | Photo courtesy of Alistair Burns, White Rock Whalers.

Olympic opportunity for Games 3 & 4

The Pod’s usual rink, Centennial Arena, is not available with the ice already taken out for lacrosse season.

Therefore, all White Rock home games in the PJHL final will be played in South Surrey Arena. However, South Surrey does provide an unusual wrinkle: Olympic ice. Or an extra 15 feet, width-wise.

‘A’ time to man up

Alternate captains Matt Burry and defenceman “Butch” La Roue, two of the longest-serving Whalers, said that the larger ice surface would mean new defensive challenges.

After he tallied in the first period, "Big Goal" Cole Svendson (left) gives goalie Keegan Maddocks a fist bump. | Photo courtesy of Alistair Burns, White Rock Whalers.

La Roue pointed out that the Pod “can’t afford to get caught sleeping” with more room for the Trappers to maneuver in front of Maddocks.

Meanwhile, at the other end, Burry thought the home-ice advantage would mean a few extra seconds for offensive creativity. He bluntly stated that the Pod would have to “just have to bear down and score” for the rest of the series.

“We need to get our drive back,” Whalers captain Tyler Price concurred. “I think when we get home, we’ll get that back and really get going.”

Game 3 of the PJHL championship final is on Tuesday, March 22 at 7:00 p.m. in South Surrey Arena (2199 148 St.)