It was a game of firsts for Vancouver Giants goalie Ryan Kubic Saturday afternoon in Oregon.
The 17-year-old from St. Andrews, Manitoba stopped all 34 shots he faced, earning his first-ever win and his first shutout in the Western Hockey League with a 2-0 victory over the Portland Winterhawks.
Drafted in the second round of the 2013 Bantam Draft, Kubic had played in just three games in the WHL prior to this season, and was winless in 10 starts so far this year.
But he was perfect against Portland, stopping everything the Winterhawks fired his way. Tyler Benson set up Chase Lang for his fifth goal of the season to give the Giants a 1-0 lead in the first minute of the second period, then Benson tallied an insurance goal with less than eight minutes to go.
Benson, a first overall pick in the 2013 draft, has five goals and 11 points in 16 games played this season.
Saturday’s win ended a six-game losing streak for the Giants, including two setbacks this week on the road against opposition from the U.S. Division.
Last Wednesday (Nov. 25), Vancouver lost 3-2 to the Spokane Chiefs. The home side scored twice on the powerplay and once while shorthanded to take a 3-0 lead with 10 minutes to play, before the Giants got a couple of goals in the final four minutes to make things interesting. Radovan Bondra netted the first goal with 3:37 remaining, then Lang tallied just 40 seconds later, but the comeback fell a goal short.
Friday in Kent, Washington, the Giants fell 5-3 to the Seattle Thunderbirds. Ty Ronning scored a powerplay goal for Vancouver in the first period, which ended with the teams tied 1-1. Seattle scored three times in the second period for a 4-1 lead before Alec Baer of the Giants cut the difference to two goals at the end of 40 minutes.
Matt Barberis of Surrey notched the third Vancouver goal, his fifth of the season, with five minutes remaining in the game.
Vancouver concluded the weekend with a 6-16-2-2 (win-loss-overtime loss-shootout loss) record, and remain in the basement of the B.C. Division, nine points back of the Kamloops Blazers and the final playoff position in the Western Conference.
The Giants will play four games in five nights this week, starting with a home game tonight at 7 p.m. at the Pacific Coliseum against the Medicine Hat Tigers (7-13-2-1), a team that has struggled with just two wins in their past 10 games.
After that, they are at home to the Kootenay Ice (6-19-2-0) Friday night at 7:30 p.m., visit the Everett Silvertips (13-7-0-2) Saturday before hosting the Prince George Cougars (13-9-1-1) Sunday at 5 p.m.