The White Rock Whalers sit atop their division in the Pacific Junior Hockey League after a pair of victories last week.
On Saturday at Centennial Arena, the Whalers edged the league-leading Langley Trappers 3-2, just a few days after earning a 7-5 road win over the Port Moody Panthers.
The two wins were enough for the Semiahmoo Peninsula junior ‘B’ squad to leapfrog both the Richmond Sockeyes and Delta Ice Hawks for top spot in the PJHL’s Tom Shaw Conference; they currently have a 6-2 won-lost record.
The Whalers and Trappers played a tight, back-and-forth affair Saturday, with the teams trading goals in the first period – Hezekiah Mbaja scored shorthanded for White Rock – to end the opening 20 minutes tied 1-1. Neither team found the back of the net in the middle frame, and in the third, Chris Fortems scored his fifth of the team to give the home side a brief 2-1 lead – a margin that was erased seven minutes later when Anthony Bosnjak scored for the Trappers.
Later in the period, with just 2:15 left, Whalers forward Cole Svendson notched the winner, pushing the puck across the line after a scramble in front of the Langley net.
“It’s huge for us because (Cole’s) a meat-and-potatoes, hard-working guy. He likes to get his nose dirty and get to the net. Ironically, that’s how he scored tonight,” said head coach Jason Rogers, who noted that the veteran forward has “been clenching the stick a little bit” since returning to the Whalers from the junior ‘A’ level.
“I expect him to go on a bit of a tear (now),” Rogers added.
In addition to Svendson’s timely marker, the game’s other highlight was a penalty-shot save from goaltender Mason Upton, who stymied Langley captain Brendan O’Grady on an attempt in the second period.
“Mason didn’t give (O’Grady) enough to shoot. He did a great job,” Rogers said.
Prior to Saturday’s win, the Whalers travelled to Port Moody, where the offence was led by Fortems, who scored twice and added two assists. Ewan Rennie had a goal and two assists, while single goals were scored by Bryce Margetson, Josten Hu, Ryden Mathieson and Matthew Burry.
Daniel Zuvic was between the pipes for White Rock, stopping 34 shots en route to the win.
The Whalers are back on the ice for two games this weekend – on Friday, they host the Aldergrove Kodiaks and on Saturday they travel to Burnaby to battle the Grandview Steelers.