by Steve EwenSpecial to The TIMES
It rolls off the tongue.
It easily conjures up goofy, cartoony logos you could plaster on the side of a food truck.
It’s made for marketing. And it’s feasible foodies could go gaga over goulash, a stew of meat and vegetables that was first trendy with Hungarian shepherds in the ninth century.
All we’re missing now is an absurdly wealthy volunteer willing to bankroll this little venture and a way to add a few hours into every day for Vancouver Giants netminder Ryan Kubic, since he’s a must as the go-to guy in the kitchen.
The 18-year-old Kubic has proven adept with a blocker and a glove. The Winnipeg bantam product is expected to be one of the Giants’ key performers in his upcoming sophomore Western Hockey League season.
He’s also developing skills with a chef’s knife and other culinary contraptions in his mitts. Kubic spends much of his time away from the rink cooking or watching TV shows about cooking. He’s confident in his goulash. Pan-seared tuna is the meal he’s having the most difficultly mastering currently.
“I love The Food Network,” said Kubic. “It got me curious. I tried experimenting with different foods. Chopped is a big show for me. Same with Cutthroat Kitchen and Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. I watched Cake Boss (on TLC) when it was on, even though I’m not much of a baker.
“I watch SportsCentre every once in a while, but unless an NHL game is on, Food Network is my TV go-to.”
It sounds like Kubic could impress Ted Allen, Alton Brown and other Food Network luminaries. He doesn’t simply focus on taste. Plating matters, too.
“The presentation of all my meals, but mostly my steak, is what surprises people – I get a lot of, ‘Wow, you made that?’ ” explained Kubic. “My breakfasts (plating) are good, too.”
There’s an on-ice application to all of this. Kubic feels that he eats healthier being at the controls of so much of what he’s consuming. He feels he has more energy.
He could be in for a busy year in the Giants’ net as Vancouver looks like it will have a young team, to go with a new general manager (Glen Hanlon), a new coach (Jason McKee) and a new rink (Langley Events Centre).
Kubic took over as the Giants’ starter midway through last season and may have been their best player in the second half. He finished with a 17-24-4-2 record, a 3.31 goalsagainst average and a .898 save percentage.
He’s smallish by goalie standards, coming in at 5-foot-11 and 177 pounds. That will always be an issue, but one of the ways he makes up for it is with his smarts and poise.
He seemed like a veteran most nights last season, although he now admits that he didn’t always feel composed. He says you’ll see a more polished netminder this season.
“I feel like I play a more calculated game now,” said Kubic, who took part in the Vancouver Canucks prospect camp this summer. “I feel more relaxed, more confident being in the league now. I feel a lot more like I fit in.”– Steve Ewen is with The Province • Click here to see more stories from The Province