White Rock captain Chris Fortems (left), Jacob Dorohoy (middle) and Bryce Margetson (right) wish young fan Landon Wollbaum a happy birthday in Minoru Arena on Dec. 30. The nine-year-old's wish came true as the Pod defeated the Mission City Outlaws 5-1. | Photo courtesy of Alistair Burns / White Rock Whalers.
Goalies Evan Paul, Mark Paton provide acrobatics
MINORU ARENA – For back-to-back games within 20 hours, the Whalers skated without top centreman Zac Sherwin and his 58 points – second-best in the league. Five minutes into the first game, head coach Jason Rogers was tossed.
Despite the adverse circumstances, the Whalers gave two spirited performances and picked up three out of a possible four points at the Winter Classic regular season tournament.
The Pod played with moxie during a chippy 5-1 victory over the Mission City Outlaws Dec. 30 and a 3-2 shootout loss to the North Vancouver Wolf Pack on New Year’s Eve.
At press time, Jan. 2, the Whalers have a record of 18 wins, 13 losses and two shootout losses for a total of 38 points and fourth place out of six teams in the Tom Shaw Conference.
White Rock is two points behind the third-place Grandview Steelers and three ahead of the North Vancouver Wolf Pack.
Whaler rookie Max Woodward used his explosive skating stride to score short-handed on Dec. 30. | Photo courtesy of Alistair Burns, White Rock Whalers
‘Honey Badger’ scores shorthanded
In the Dec. 30 contest against Mission, Pod captain Chris Fortems notched his twelfth of the season for a 2-0 lead.
Rookie Max Woodward took advantage of a heads-up pass from Zach Johns and a broken play at centre ice for a shorthanded breakaway. He ripped the puck past Outlaw goalie Max Fowle’s shoulder.
The puck was “right there for me on the breakaway…it was a gift, really,” Woodward said with a chuckle. The five-foot-six rookie is an on-ice dynamo.
White Rock head coach Jason Rogers called Woodward a “honey badger. He’s on the puck all the time.”
With Sherwin out, veteran Jacob Dorohoy centred the top line between Fortems and “Big Goal” Cole Svendson. Dorohoy picked up his eighth of the season when he pounced on a rebound from defenceman Bryce Margetson’s shot on the man advantage.
Derrheim goes roof daddy
Meanwhile, Whaler defenceman Charlie Derrheim looked like a seasoned veteran. He scored twice. His second goal was a powerplay marker – a cannonading drive from the point – halfway through the third period.
Whaler blueliner Charlie Derrheim was the Pod's player of the game on Dec. 30. | Photo courtesy of Alistair Burns, White Rock Whalers.
Derrheim joined the Pod on a full-time basis two months ago. He attributed his strong play to hard work in practice.
White Rock head coach Jason Rogers agreed with Derrheim, as the Whalers had specifically worked on one-timers. With Derrheim’s “skill set, he should be creating more offence,” Rogers said.
Shaky special teams
While the Whalers did score twice on the powerplay, they also allowed the Outlaws to skate in on three shorthanded breakaways. Pod goalie Evan Paul steered aside all three attempts.
Paul barely missed a shutout – 20 saves on 21 shots – as Outlaw Cayden Karcioglu spoiled the party with a powerplay goal with 1:41 left on the clock.
POST GAME AUDIO with Coach Rogers, Max Woodward & Charlie Derrheim
"He's going to be a pretty darn good hockey player" through the "energy he brings," head coach Jason Rogers said of rookie Max Woodward.
Live Audio with Coach Rogers
I "bring some energy to the game, that’s my strong suit," forward Max Woodward said about his role.
Live Audio with Max Woodward
"I've been working really hard in practice and (that's) just built up confidence," for games, defenceman Charlie Derrheim acknowledged.
Live Audio with Charlie Derrheim
Wolf Pack strike back
During the Dec. 31 game versus North Vancouver, the Whalers were in deep early when elite defensive forward Travis Smythe took a five-minute major and game misconduct for a check to the head.
The Pack’s Tanner Terness converted on the powerplay. But Whaler Kaz Yamazaki tied the game off a feed from “Honey Badger” Max Woodward.
Yamazaki’s hockey resolution was to be more consistent in his scoring in 2023.
Later, during a five-minute, 3-on-3 overtime, Whaler defenceman Bryce Margetson took two separate penalties for cross-checking and a minor for holding and a ten-minute misconduct.
Paton’s ‘beast’ mode
Whaler goalie Mark Paton was one cool cucumber. Calm and composed, he delivered a superb display of crease acrobatics with eight saves during the sudden death session.
Paton faced a total of 51 shots. Unfortunately, the Pack’s Trevor Baron picked the top corner during the shootout for the game-winner.
White Rock assistant coach Matt Rogers praised Paton: a “beast ever since we got him.”
Since being picked up from the Aldergrove Kodiaks in November, Paton has improved his overall record to 10 wins, nine losses and a goals-against-average of 2.71.
Whaler goalie Mark Paton turned aside eight shots during a frantic five-minute overtime on Dec. 31. | Photo courtesy of Alistair Burns, White Rock Whalers.
POST GAME AUDIO with Assistant Coach Matt Rogers & Kaz Yamazaki
Goalie Mark Paton's "been huge for us – really solidified that position for us," assistant coach Matt Rogers commented.
Live Audio with Assistant Coach Matt Rogers
"I asked Woody for the puck and I shot it (to the) top left" corner, secondary scorer Kaz Yamazaki recalled of his goal against North Van.
Live Audio with Kaz Yamazaki
First: White Rock # 62 Cole Svendson
Second: Delta # 14 Alec Scouras
Third: Delta # 18 Dalton MacGillivray