Wearing a Hartford Whalers jersey from his own playing days, John Garrett (centre) shakes hands with White Rock Whaler Eric Bocale and Richmond Sockeye Matthew Brown after Saturday’s ceremonial puck drop at Centennial Arena. (Contributed photo)

Wearing a Hartford Whalers jersey from his own playing days, John Garrett (centre) shakes hands with White Rock Whaler Eric Bocale and Richmond Sockeye Matthew Brown after Saturday’s ceremonial puck drop at Centennial Arena. (Contributed photo)

‘Proud moment’ as White Rock Whalers hit the ice

Team owner Ronnie Paterson hopes organization can build on Game 1 excitement

Saturday was a special day for White Rock Whalers owner Ronnie Paterson, who watched – along with a few hundred of his closest friends – as the Pacific Junior Hockey League’s newest franchise hit the ice for its first regular-season game at Centennial Arena.

That the Whalers lost the game, 4-3 to the defending league champion Richmond Sockeyes, was secondary to the celebration itself – a celebration that included hundreds of fans, as well as some well-known dignitaries.

Among those on hand were Hockey Night in Canada play-by-play broadcaster Jim Hughson – a South Surrey resident who served Saturday evening as the pre-game MC – as well as former National Hockey League goaltender and current Canucks broadcaster John Garrett, who lives in Surrey. White Rock resident Mark Donnelly – well known to hockey fans for his rendition of O Canada prior to Canucks’ games – sung the anthem prior to puck drop.

• RELATED: Junior ‘B’ hockey team coming to White Rock

Current Canuck defenceman Troy Stecher – who is part of the Whalers’ ownership group, Paterson told Peace Arch News – was also on hand, as was White Rock Mayor Wayne Baldwin, and even some Whalers alumni who suited up for the junior ‘B’ team in the mid 1980s when the team played in the West Coast Hockey League, which served as a precursor to the PJHL.

“Opening night was very, very special – I think for us, and for the entire community,” Paterson said.

“We had lots of activity, lots of energy. It was a beyond-capacity crowd, with some live entertainment outside, and I think it all worked out really well.”

Paterson is a former co-owner of the Surrey Eagles of the BC Hockey League and, more recently, was a key figure in the ownership group of the Sockeyes before leaving to get the Whalers off the ground, and as such, has been present for many an opening night.

He admitted that Saturday had something of a different feel, however, because the team was brand new and built from scratch.

“All in all, it was a very special evening. It was a proud moment, I won’t deny that,” he said. “I think a lot of people were really looking forward to it.”

Among the highlights for Paterson, he told PAN, was Garrett – wearing a Hartford Whalers jersey from his own playing days – dropping the ceremonial puck.

“John is a guy I’ve met through the hockey community over the years, and I just reached out to him to see if he wanted to be involved and he said, ‘absolutely,’” Paterson explained. “He’s an original (Hartford) Whaler, so he loved the idea, loved the team name.”

Stecher’s involvement with the new team comes as a result of Paterson’s longtime relationship with his family.

“Troy grew up in Richmond, where I spent a lot of time as well and I’ve known the family for a long time,” he explained.

“Troy is a real student of the game and has always wanted to get involved in the business side of the sport… So when this idea of starting a team in White Rock emerged, I asked him if he wanted to be involved and he embraced the idea. He’s been an integral part of all this, and he’ll get more and more involved as time goes on.”

With an aim to carry Saturday’s momentum forward, Paterson said team brass has plenty of ideas for future home games – everything from “unique” promotions to a battle-of-the-bands night.

“There’s a good foundation here and a lot of excitement. We hope we can sustain it all year long.”

Just Posted

Rahim Manji owns and operates the Hollywood 3 Cinemas in Newton, along with the Caprice in South Surrey, a theatre in Duncan and another in Pitt Meadows. “I think right now it feels different than last June, it just does,” Manji said. “I’m a lot more optimistic, with more people calling, more people out and getting vaccinated, so I think the comfort level is a lot better.” (Photo: Tom Zillich)
Surrey movie theatre operators reopen and rejoice, even with 50-max capacity

‘We have been one of the hardest-hit industries’

A sign warning of a pack of coyotes hangs near 2660 Croydon Dr. (Aaron Hinks photo)
South Surrey woman sounds alarm after encounter with pack of coyotes

Susan Martin said three full-grown coyotes were lurking around her home

(Delta Police Department photo)
Delta police searching for Surrey woman missing at Centennial Beach

Wenyan Lan, 54, reported missing when she didn’t come home from a crabbing/clam digging trip June 14

Ian MacDonald, spokesman for Surrey Police Service. (Submitted photo)
Surrey Police Service launches public consultation campaign

This is to help the SPS form its first strategic plan

Outdoor vendors at the Cloverdale Flea Market are seen in this bird’s eye view image from the flea market’s Facebook page.
Cloverdale Flea Market to reopen

Market to open June 20 after being closed since Nov. 2020

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

(Black Press Media file)
Dirty money: Canadian currency the most germ-filled in the world, survey suggests

Canadian plastic currency was found to contain 209 bacterial cultures

(pixabay file shot)
B.C. ombudsperson labels youth confinement in jail ‘unsafe,’ calls for changes

Review states a maximum of 22 hours for youth, aged 12 from to 17, to be placed in solitary

Eleonore Alamillo-Laberge, 6, reads a book in Ottawa on Monday, June 12, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Parents will need to fight ‘COVID learning slump’ over summer: B.C. literacy experts

Parents who play an active role in educating their children this summer can reverse the slump by nearly 80%, says Janet Mort

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The border crossing on Highway 11 in Abbotsford heading south (file)
Western premiers call for clarity, timelines on international travel, reopening rules

Trudeau has called Thursday meeting, premiers say they expect to leave that meeting with a plan

The B.C. government’s vaccine booking website is busy processing second-dose appointments, with more than 76 per cent of adults having received a first dose. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations stable for Tuesday

108 new confirmed cases, 139 in hospital, 39 in intensive care

A worker, at left, tends to a customer at a cosmetics shop amid the COVID-19 pandemic Thursday, May 20, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Half of cosmetics sold in Canada, U.S. contain toxic chemicals: study

Researchers found that 56% of foundations and eye products contain high levels of fluorine

White Rock’s Marine Drive has been converted to one-way traffic to allow more patio space for waterfront restaurants. (Peace Arch News)
Province promotes permanent pub patios in B.C. post-pandemic plan

More than 2,000 temporary expansions from COVID-19 rules

Most Read