Chalk one up for the underdogs.
On Wednesday at Centennial Arena, in the team’s first-ever Pacific Junior Hockey League playoff game, the White Rock Whalers edged the record-setting, first-place North Vancouver Wolf Pack 3-2 in Game 1 of the teams’ best-of-seven first-round series.
The series resumes tonight (Friday), with Game 2 set for North Vancouver’s Harry Jerome Rec Centre, while the third game in the series is scheduled for Saturday. The showdown returns to White Rock for Game 4 Tuesday, and Game 5 – which is now necessary after the Whalers’ first-game victory – is set for Saturday, Feb. 22 in North Van.
For the Wolf Pack, Wednesday’s loss was just the fourth-time all season that they’d lost a game in regulation time; the team set league records for wins and points this season, finishing the regular-season with a record of 40-3-0-1 (win-loss-tie-overtime loss).
On Wednesday, the Whalers – who finished fourth in the PJHL’s Tom Shaw Conference – jumped out to an early lead against the top-seeded Wolf Pack, with Chris Fortems, who finished the regular season tied for the league’s rookie scoring lead, scoring first, just 3:10 into the first period.
The home team extended the lead to 2-0 less than seven minutes later, when Matthew Burry scored.
The Whalers kept the pressure on in the second period – out-shooting North Van 12-6 – but it was the Wolf Pack who were the only ones able to score, potting a pair of goals to tie the game at 2-2.
At the 5:41 mark of the third period, a sharp-angle shot from White Rock’s Kalem Burns proved to be the eventual game winner, giving the White Rock its first playoff victory in franchise history.
Christopher Akerman, 20, was between the pipes for the Whalers, stopping 27 shots.