Whaler defenceman Cam Newson stretches during warm-up. Newson consistently steered aside North Van's speedy skaters from the White Rock crease. | Photo courtesy of Alistair Burns, White Rock Whalers.
CENTENNIAL ARENA – There’s a sure-fire way to defeat a swift-skating team – take their speed and throw it back in their faces.
The Whalers did exactly that in a dominant 7-1 victory over the top-ranked North Vancouver Wolf Pack on Feb. 15. White Rock now leads the quarter-final series 1-0.
“If you play hockey in (the Wolf Pack’s) zone, they don’t like it,” White Rock head coach Jason Rogers pointed out. The Whalers dictated the pace and eventually chased Wolf Pack goalie Damian Perovic from the crease.
Whaler goalie Keegan Maddocks, a former WHL netminder, faced 29 shots. Maddocks backstopped the Whalers to a victory over the PJHL's best team, the North Vancouver Wolf Pack. | Photo courtesy of Alistair Burns, White Rock Whalers.
Alternate captain Matt Burry with Travis Smythe in warm-up Feb. 15. Smythe scored his first-ever goal for the Pod in a dominant 7-1 victory. "It felt amazing," he said. | Photo courtesy of Alistair Burns, White Rock Whalers.
Pod ready for postseason
Whaler Zach Johns opened the scoring three-and-a-half minutes in. He won the race to the puck in a goal-mouth scramble and beat Perovic.
The next shift, Ewan Rennie’s laser beam off the post and in was the game-winner. “Anytime you can add (Rennie) in your line-up, he gives you another level of offence,” Rogers added.
On the side boards, White Rock grinder Travis Smythe upped the physical tone when he laid out North Van defenceman Ben Thornley-Hall on a hard shoulder check.
Whaler goalie Keegan Maddocks faced 29 shots for his first playoff win for the Pod. His only miscue came off a face-off late in the first. North Van’s Anthony Reimer put the Pack on the scoreboard.
Again, the Whalers responded via clogging the crease. A minute later, veteran winger Chris Fortems steered a third rebound over the goal line.
Blueliners Cruz, Price almost go coast-to-coast
The most striking difference for the Whalers was that the defensive corps alertly recognized the proper time when to jump up into the play.
Caleb Cruz and Tyler Price gave the Wolf Pack fits with their precision tape-to-tape passes. “It’s not an end-to-end skate, it’s more about generating offence with speed,” Rogers pointed out.
Sherwin energizes Centennial
After sustained pressure from the Wolf Pack to start the second period, Whaler Zach Sherwin showed why he stayed a few months in Jr. ‘A’ earlier this season.
On the man advantage, Sherwin curled from the corner and fired a shot on the short side over Perovic’s pad. “Sherwin had some great energy,” Rogers said.
The Whalers – other than agitator Bryce Margetson – stayed out of the box. Margetson and Wolf Pack centreman Reimer went off twice for coincidental minors.
“Every single player was rolling and that’s what we’re going to need every night!” Margetson exclaimed.