Through the first few weeks of the Pacific Junior Hockey League season, the White Rock Whalers sit near the top of their conference.
On Saturday at White Rock’s Centennial Arena, the Whalers shut out the Delta Ice Hawks 3-0, a win that brought a modest two-game losing streak to an end; last Thursday, White Rock lost 5-3 to the Richmond Sockeyes and on Sept. 18 were edged 6-4 by the Ridge Meadows Flames.
Through six games, the Whalers have a 4-2 win-loss record, which sits them second in the PJHL’s Tom Shaw Conference – a single point back of the first-place North Vancouver Wolf Pack.
Against the Ice Hawks Saturday, White Rock netminder Daniel Zuvic – who has been among the league’s top goalies so far this season – stopped 30 shots in the win, including a 55-second stretch in which the Whalers were fighting off a two-man advantage.
The shutout was Zuvic’s first of the season, and boosted his save-percentage to .940.
The 20-year-old goal has played “really, really well so far this season. So I’m glad he finally gets rewarded with a shutout,” Whalers associate coach Julian Feijo said in a postgame news release.
White Rock took a 1-0 lead just 2:34 into the game when Caleb Cruz potted his first of the year, and in the second, Zachary Sherwin extended the lead. In the third period, Chris Fortems – who also assisted on Sherwin’s tally – rounded out the scoring.
But the scoring took a backseat to the penalties – the two squads combined for more than 100 penalty minutes, including seven misconducts and two “blow to the head” penalties.
Though it was not necessarily related to the abundance of penalties, Sherwin noted post-game that the team has “a new mindset that makes us a grittier team that is even hungrier for a lengthy playoff run.”
The PJHL’s season was cut very short last fall due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with the Whalers playing just four games.