The junior ‘B’ club opened its season Sept.7 with a shootout victory over the Delta Ice Hawks, and followed up Saturday at White Rock’s Centennial Arena with a 5-1 win over the visiting Grandview Steelers.
Saturday’s game was the first time the team had played a PJHL game at its home rink in 571 days; last season the team played its home games in Richmond and elsewhere, as health protocols in the City of White Rock at the time did not allow for games to be played locally.
National Hockey League hall-of-famer Glenn Anderson – who starred for the Wayne Gretzky-led Edmonton Oilers in the 1980s – dropped the ceremonial puck prior to the game. Anderson is a friend of Whalers’ owner/president Ronnie Paterson.
On Saturday, forward Matthew Burry led White Rock’s offensive charge with a goal and three assists, while Zachary Sherwin, Josh Henderson, Milo Schneidmiller and Andrew Fishwick also scored. Defenceman Tyler Price chipped in with two assists.
In Thursday’s season-opener – which was played at the Ladner Leisure Centre – the Whalers leapt out to an early lead when Burry scored seven minutes into the first period, but the Ice Hawks scored twice later in the period – the second goal came with just two seconds left in the frame – to take a slim 2-1 lead into the second.
White Rock’s Chris Fortems scored to tie the game midway through the period, and the two squads traded goals in the third – Samuel Dowell scored for the Whalers – to send the game to extra time.
Neither team could break the deadlock in overtime, and in the shootout, White Rock won on a goal from Sherwin.
Whalers goaltender Daniel Zuvic stopped all three Delta shootout attempts, while also making 38 saves in the game itself.
Zuvic was sharp Saturday, too, stopping 21 of 22 shots he faced – including one old-school, stack-the-pads save off Grandview’s Nick Baras.
“He’s a mature 20 year old and he’s played some games in the league so he’s always prepared. He’s given us two good performances back to back,” said Whalers head coach Jason Rogers.
While pleased with the performance from his veteran netminder – who was acquired in the off-season from Mission – Rogers noted that the team needed to do a better job defensively in front of him.
“We shouldn’t be putting (Zuvic) in those situations with odd-man rushes… it’s nice to know that he’s making those saves but we can’t play like that all year,” he said.
Next up for the Whalers is a quick trip up the road for a Sept. 16 road game against the Surrey Knights. Their second home game of the season is scheduled for Sept. 18 against the Ridge Meadows Flames.