Whalers goalie Kyle Spak warms up before facing the Ridge Meadows Flames. Spak gave up six goals on 34 shots. Photo courtesy of Alistair Burns / White Rock Whalers.
CENTENNIAL ARENA – The Whalers were thwarted from the first four-game winning streak in franchise history when the Ridge Meadows Flames spoiled the evening September 18
Ridge Meadows won 6-4 in a see-saw contest and dealt White Rock their first defeat this season.
“We’re happy with where we are,” said White Rock head coach Jason Rogers. In the opening weeks of the season, he wanted the Pod to earn three out of four wins.
However, “it’s a little disappointing when you get the six [points in the standings] through three wins and then lose the fourth one,” he added.
The visitors took the lead only 43 seconds in. Defenceman David Stepputat blasted a howitzer from the point past White Rock’s goalie Kyle Spak.
Spak faced 34 shots as his teammates fired 40 shots at Flames goalie Elliott Marshall.
Flame Cohen Muc doubled the lead when he tapped in a hard pass through the crease. The Whalers woke up when Hezzy Mbaja’s laser from the slot finally beat Marshall halfway through the first to make it 2-1.
Whalers captain Tyler Price (#73) gets set for a face-off against the Ridge Meadows Flames.
Mathieson home from WHL try-out
In the second period, Whaler Ryden Mathieson used his on-ice intelligence when he alertly used an opposing defenceman as a screen. His seeing-eye shot from between the face-off circles – a powerplay marker – tied the game.
Mathieson recently came home from a try-out with the Western Hockey League’s Prince George Cougars. Coach Rogers said that Mathieson impressed up north and was listed by the WHL team.
“Anytime our program can get guys to the next level [for] opportunities? That’s what we’re about,” Rogers commented.
A few minutes later, veteran teammate Sam Dowell brought the White Rock bench up in a cheer when he decked a Flame defender into the away bench. Later, Dowell lit the lamp for his second this season.
“The younger players look up to a guy like me,” Dowell said. “If they see that I’m out on the ice working hard, making hits, and scoring goals, that inspires them.”
Dowell offered a sage perspective on this year’s first loss. “We’re not going to win all the games but I can promise you that every night, we’ll put up a battle.”.
Coach Rogers: ‘Stay out of the box’
Unfortunately, in the third period, White Rock eventually ran out of time due to a combination of poor line changes, defensive breakdowns, and penalties.
“We’ve got to stay out of the box,” Rogers pointed out. He referred to back-to-back cross-checking and roughing minors.
The Flames took advantage of one of those powerplays as Nicholas Amsler scored for a 5-4 lead. He added an empty-netter to seal the away victory.
Post-Game with Coach Rogers
Third: White Rock – # 15 Ewan Rennie
Second: Ridge Meadows – # 71 Nicholas Amsler
First: First: Ridge Meadows – # 9 Cohen Muc
Genevieve Reimer, a high school student, triumphantly returned to perform "O Canada" for the first time in two years on Sept.18th. After the pandemic shut down hockey last season, she received a warm ovation from fans.