White Rock Whalers clinch spot for PJHL playoffs

Defencemen Dylan Travis (12) and Terence Learmouth (9) with goalie Keegan Maddocks at the net during a recent game. The team has clinched a playoff spot for this year’s PJHL Stonehouse Cup playoffs. | Photo: David Stevens Photography.

By Tricia Weel

The White Rock Whalers have clinched a playoff spot for the Pacific Junior Hockey League playoffs.

The team’s efforts all season have paid off, despite recent injuries and a couple of losses, and the pod – ranked third in the Tom Shaw Conference with 50 points – will head to the Pacific Junior Hockey League’s Stonehouse Cup playoffs.

“We’ve been going through a tough stretch of injuries… we’re a little banged up,” said Whalers head coach Brien Gemmell, noting they’re working on getting their injured players healthy.

“It’s not an excuse. We still have to compete – we’ll get back at ‘er against Richmond and North Van(couver) later this week.”

READ MORE: Delta Ice Hawks crowned 2022-23 PJHL champions

Last year’s Stonehouse Cup final came down to an overtime win for the Delta Ice Hawks versus the Ridge Meadows Flames, in a hard-fought battle.

The Whalers have clinched a playoff position as they cannot finish any lower than fifth in their conference, Gemmell explained.

“The top three teams in each conference get a bye, theoretically, for round one, and the teams that finish fourth and fifth, they play off in a – for all intents and purposes – a wild card round,” he said.

The winner of that round plays the top seed of that conference (Tom Shaw and Harold Brittain).

“We may not know where we’re going to be playing yet, but we know we’re in the playoffs – it’s just a matter of whether we’re in the wild card game or the round two,” said Gemmell. “If we finish third (in the standings), we’ll play the second-place team, and the first-place team will wait for team four or five.”

The pod is on the road for its next two games, Thursday (Jan. 18) in Richmond and Saturday (Jan. 20) in North Vancouver.

Their next home game is at Centennial Arena in White Rock Jan. 27 vs. the Grandview Steelers, with a 7:15 p.m. puck drop.

“We’re excited and looking forward to the opportunity to play in the playoffs, to just go out and compete as hard as we can for the opportunity to play for a championship. That’s what we’re focused on.”

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