Winters’ Wonderland: Pod Splits Wolf Pack Series

White Rock’s seven-game ‘W’ streak ends

CENTENNIAL ARENA – The league’s elite, the North Vancouver Wolf Pack, broke the Centennial faithful’s hearts when sniper Ryan Hunter scored on Whaler Daniel Zuvic with 91 seconds left.

The 4-3 loss on Dec. 18 concluded White Rock’s historic winning streak that lasted an impressive five weeks. The seven straight victories had started Nov. 14 with a victory against – you guessed it – the Wolf Pack.

Also, the Whalers hosted the annual Hockey Gives Blood (HGB) night on Dec. 18. HGB, a non-profit organization, was started after the tragedy of the Humboldt Broncos bus crash in 2018.

“My very first [blood] donation was right here in White Rock,” said Tanner Murray, HGB co-founder. Murray, a high school teacher, set up the organization with other former hockey players to encourage blood, plasma, adult stem cell, and organ donations.

He pointed out that HGB has player ambassadors across the country at the junior and NHL levels since Canadian Blood Services needs 100,000 new blood donors each year.

Whalers Ewan Rennie (third from left) and captain Tyler Price stand next to Tanner Murray of Hockey Gives Blood, a non-profit charity that works with Canadian Blood Services on Dec. 18.

Ewan Rennie (left) and captain Tyler Price show off at the Hockey Gives Blood (HGB) booth in Centennial Arena Dec.18. HGB was founded after the 2018 tragedy of the Humboldt Broncos.

Dec.19: ‘Very mature response’

However, the Whalers redeemed themselves in a rematch against North Van on Dec. 19. Eighteen-year-old Pod goalie Adam Winters said “Bah, Humbug!” to the Wolf Pack with a 5-1 drubbing.

In his first start for the Whalers since being picked up from the Chilliwack Jets, Winters made 35 saves between the pipes. He was named third star of the game.

“Winters competed very hard and was very excited to be playing,” said White Rock head coach Jason Rogers. His team had shown a “very mature response” in the comeback victory.

Winter is coming: Goalie appreciates comradery

“When I first heard I was headed to White Rock, it was a bit of a shock,” Winters remembered.

His shock turned into “excitement and anticipation” as he took the ice in Centennial Arena. He was grateful as his new teammates blocked shots and rallied around him in the crease.

Since the Pod’s home rink is smaller than the National Hockey League standard of 200 feet by 85 feet, Winters had to quickly readjust his angles to challenge the North Van shooters.

“My goal is to help this team succeed in any way I can,” Winters commented. He already felt like a “true part” of the Whalers.

New Whaler goalie Adam Winters looked sharp in his Pod debut, with 35 saves Dec. 19

Cole Svendson had an impressive five points – two goals, three assists afternoon Sunday, Dec. 19

‘Big Goal’ nets five points

Meanwhile, “Big Goal” Cole Svendson continued to live up to his nickname, first bestowed during his rookie campaign. Against the Wolf Pack Dec. 19, Svendson had an impressive five points – two goals, three assists – as he was involved in all White Rock scoring plays.

Though the Whalers gave up the first goal when North Van’s Alex Binette pounced on a rebound during an early powerplay, Whaler Chris Fortems responded 80 seconds later and the Pod never looked back.

At press time, the Whalers held on to third place in the Tom Shaw Conference with a record of 18 wins, 11 losses, and an overtime loss for 37 points. The Pod is only two points ahead of the fourth-place Richmond Sockeyes.

Merry Christmas, then Classic camp

Rogers laid out the next two weeks for the Whalers. After Christmas, the coaching staff will put the Pod through a mini-camp for four days before the annual Pacific Junior Winter Classic regular season tournament at Richmond’s Minoru Arena Dec. 30 to Jan. 2.