Fourth-seed Pod face league’s best in quarter-finals
It all comes down to this for the playoff bound Whalers: a quarter-finals match-up against the league’s elite, the North Vancouver Wolf Pack.
This seven-game series will be a rematch from two years ago. Then, the fourth-seeded Whalers made their playoff debut in the franchise’s second season. In that first game, the Pod shocked the Pack in overtime. However, North Van used superior skating to sink the Pod in five games.
For the veteran Whalers who skated in that previous series – Chris Fortems, Matt Burry, and “Butch” La Roue – the postseason intensity was a wake-up call.
Playoffs with Coach Rogers
‘Fantastic group of young men’: Coach Rogers
This time around, White Rock has radically improved in the standings. The franchise set a new record in wins with 27 wins and 16 losses. Overall, the Pod and Pack played six times. Each team had three wins apiece.
White Rock head coach Jason Rogers said that the Pod’s better play “speaks volumes to the hard work and commitment from our group. I love our group. I think this is a fantastic group of young men who are going to make a healthy run.”
Rogers preached a constant theme for the Whalers: disciplined play means a chance to win. In a shorter series, “you need to compete harder. It’s such a fine balance of emotions.”
Both the Pod and the Pack have the same Achilles’ heel – to become frustrated and lose focus if penalties pile up.
Rock solid on PK
Since the Wolf Pack have the home-ice advantage, the special teams are a mixed bag for White Rock. Away from home, the bright light was the White Rock penalty kill: a stellar 85 percent. But the power play on the road struggled at 17 percent.
“If we can play hard and stay out of the box, we will be very successful,” Whalers captain Tyler Price commented. Earlier this season, Price scored a game-winner in overtime versus North Van.
Ben Righetti, the Pod’s play-by-play broadcaster, thought that the Whaler defensive corps, led by captain Tyler Price and veteran Bryce Margetson, will face their stiffest challenge to date.
Ultimately, the Pack’s speedy wingers have the “ability to get behind White Rock’s defencemen with stretch passes,” Righetti pointed out.
Rogers and the coaching staff have spent the past few weeks preparing for the Wolf Pack. “Be careful what you wish for!” he exclaimed.