The White Rock Whalers are heading into Game 5 of Pacific Junior Hockey League playoffs leading the Richmond Sockeyes 3-1 in the series.
That means the Junior B hockey team could take best-of-seven series with a win Thursday (March 3), on the road at Minoru Arena.
“Doesn’t get easier to win the fourth [game]. It’s actually the hardest,” Whalers head coach Jason Rogers said.
“Let’s rest up, get focused for Thursday and do the best to close.”
Game Four of the Tom Shaw conference semi-finals saw player Cole Svendson get a historic hat trick, after the Whalers had gained – and blown – a two-goal lead in front of the home Centennial Arena crowd on Monday, Feb. 27.
But instead of frustration, “Big Goal” Cole scored the Pod’s first-ever post-season hat trick in a 6-4 victory over the Richmond Sockeyes.
POD WINS GAME FOUR!
The Whalers take a 3-1 lead in the series against the @R_Sockeyes as Cole Svendson gets his first playoff hat trick.
Games 5 is at Minoru Arena on Thursday, Mar. 2, at 7:00 pm.@ThePJHL #pjhlplayoffs#stonehousecupchampionship 🏆#RidetheWave 🐋 pic.twitter.com/BxkwMKZO6b
— WhiteRockWhalers (@WRWhalersHockey) February 28, 2023
The six-foot-four winger went into beast mode.
He crashed the net for rebounds; two of his goals came on the power play; and he added an assist when he set up linemate Chris Fortems’s second goal of the playoffs.
Svendson said that the Whalers were angered by the evaporation of the 2-0 lead.
“We just came back. Got the pucks in the net and buried our opportunities,” he said.
Rogers called Svendson a “streaky guy” with a total of five goals in Games Three and Four.
“We’re hoping that he stays hot!” Rogers said.
However, even after the Pod had a three-goal lead in the third period, Sockeye Callum Lind beat Whaler netminder Mark Paton to make the score 6-4.
Then Svendson and defenceman Cam Newson were sent off for a two-man Richmond advantage.
The Pod’s defensive corps stayed in shooting lanes as Cole Dennis-Sharma and alternate captain Bryce Margetson blocked consecutive shot attempts from the point.
Paton cooly took care of the rest. He faced 35 shots in Game 4 and picked up his third postseason victory with a goals-against-average of 2.25.
Svendson was in a happier mood during his post-game interview.
“We’re going to win. I have no doubts,” he said.
For more, check out whiterockwhalers.ca.
– With files from Alistair Burns