Shootout win sends fans home happy

Vancouver Giants' Ryan Kubic called in off the bench early, responds with 35 saves in regulation, overtime plus two shootout stops

Gary Ahuja

Black Press

The season may be a disappointment in terms of wins and losses, but don’t tell that to the fans.

A 15-minute delay in the third period after Vancouver Giants forward Bartek Bison drilled Red Deer Rebels’ Brandon Schuldhaus into the side boards, shattering the glass, might have sent some fans to the exits at the Langley Events Centre.

Instead the majority of the nearly 4,000 fans stuck around, sang, danced and even did the wave.

And their patience was rewarded as Ty Ronning and Jack Flaman both scored in the shootout while Ryan Kubic stopped both Red Deer attempts to give the Giants a 4-3 shootout victory on Saturday night.

The win improved the Giants to 19-36-2-3 while Red Deer fell to 23-27-6-4.

Vancouver needs to run the table and win their remaining dozen games while hoping the Portland Winterhawks do not pick up a single point in their 13 games for the Giants to make the post-season.

And that doesn’t even factor in the Spokane Chiefs, who sit with 59 points, behind Portland but ahead of Vancouver.

The victory was also a nice bounce back for a Giants team that fell apart the night before, allowing four goals in the second period to turn a 1-1 game into a 6-1 loss to the Kamloops Blazers.

And Saturday’s game may have had a familiar feel.

For the second straight game, the Giants opened the scoring as Owen Hardy potted the puck home just 56 seconds in. But the Rebels Lane Zablocki and Akash Bains scored on successive shots — their only two of the game to that point — 1:28 apart to chase Vancouver goaltender David Tendeck.

“We needed a momentum shift, especially after last night, We didn’t want the game to get away from us,” said coach Jason McKee.

“I think it was more of a break for the guys to reset and Ryan (Kubic) came in and did well.”

Kubic stopped 35 of 36 shots, with the goal to beat him an easy tap-in from Zablocki.

That goal came 5:06 into the third period after Ronning had tied the score with six seconds left in the second period.

The goal was set up by James Malm, who after having his stick chopped out of his hands, held off the Red Deer defender and kicked the puck to Ronning.

Ronning made no mistake in burying his team-leading 22nd of the season.

Tyler Popowich scored on a Ronning rebound at 13:05 to pull the Giants even once again.

And after neither team scored in OT, Kubic stopped both Rebels shooters.

“I have been working on that a lot. I think that is one of my first junior shootout wins so I was pretty happy. I just let them make the first move and it worked out for me,” he said.

Kubic improved to 1-3 in shootouts this season.

Even more important than that was the fact he had a great bounce back from Friday’s loss.

“It was a great feeling. Character is definitely built on the game after the bad game so I felt really great,’ he said.

For the Giants, this was just their second win in the past 15 games (2-11-1-1).

“There are lots of different ways to measure growth and getting wins is definitely one of them. The guys have been working hard and it was nice for them to be rewarded,” McKee said.

“We know who we are and that we have a young group. We just have to stick with it and stay with the fight as long as we can and if do that, we give ourselves a chance like we did tonight.”

The Giants are next in action on Friday when the Victoria Royals come to the LEC. Puck drop is 7:30 p.m.


Surrey North Delta Leader

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