The White Rock Whalers are set to start Pacific Junior Hockey League (PJHL) playoffs on Monday, Feb. 20, with the first best-of-seven series pitting them against the Richmond Sockeyes, who finished just above them in the PJHL’s Tom Shaw Conference in regular season play.
The Junior B hockey team has made it to playoffs for the third year in a row, noted head coach Jason Rogers.
This time, two Whalers finished the regular season as the first- and second-leading scorers in the PJHL, both setting single-season franchise records.
Chris Fortems finished the regular season with a whopping 94 points, and Zach Sherwin finished second in league scoring and with 90 points total, just four points behind Fortems.
FRANCHISE RECORD— WhiteRockWhalers (@WRWhalersHockey) February 16, 2023
Chris Fortems establishes a single-season franchise record for points by a Whalers with ninety-four points. It should be enough to capture the League title.
#RidetheWave 🐋 pic.twitter.com/UG4s58IcpR
FRANCHISE RECORD— WhiteRockWhalers (@WRWhalersHockey) February 17, 2023
Zach Sherwin sets a single-season franchise record for goals by a Whalers with thirty-seven. Zach also finished second in league scoring, four points behind linemate Fortems (the top two in the PJHl).
#RidetheWave 🐋 pic.twitter.com/knrk2RAyOG
Now, the Whalers’ Pod is focused on winning against the Sockeyes.
“It should be one heck of a series,” Rogers said, noting the teams are fairly evenly matched.
“They’re a very good program – they’ve been around a long time… they’ve had their fair share of success.”
Their first two games will be played at Richmond’s Minoru Arena, before they head back to home ice at Centennial Arena (14600 North Bluff Rd., White Rock) for Games Three and Four.
For the Whalers, their top line of captain Chris Fortems, centerman Zach Sherwin, and “Big Goal” Cole Svendson – all three playing their final year of junior hockey – must perform as they did during the season as one of the league’s elite lines.
“I think we’ve got a pretty dominant Number One line,” Roger said.
Fortems acknowledged that while his stats were “pretty crazy” to look at, he wouldn’t have been able to accomplish this feat without his two friends.
Sherwin credited the long-term chemistry between the three for their outstanding point totals.
“It’s always fun to watch them,” Rogers said, nicknaming the trio the “completion” line.
While the veteran Whalers players posted plenty of points, many of the rookie and younger players were also able to contribute through regular season play, Rogers noted.
“They’ve made us a better, more well-rounded team. The opposition can’t just focus on the one line – if they think they can stop them, we have other players that can produce as well,” Rogers said, adding they give the team “the ability to create a little more depth throughout the lineup.”
Between the pipes, Whalers goalie Mark Paton has been red-hot for the Pod with a sizzling record of 14 wins and four losses with a 2.04 goals-against-average since he joined the Whalers in November of last year.
He’ll face Sockeye starter Ben Montgomery (seven wins, five losses with a goals-against-average of 2.81), who has had an uneven season since he was picked up, also in November.
Jacob Dorohoy, another veteran Whalers player, was thrilled for the postseason drama to begin.
Especially as an ex-Sockeye.
“Against my former team? Even better!” he exclaimed.
“Should be a good round… it’s going to be a good ride.”
Visit whiterockwhalers.ca for more playoff and PJHL information.
– with files from Alistair Burns