If Jamie Tucker is any indication, the Vancouver Giants will be a force to be reckoned with for years to come.
Tucker stopped 23 shots for his fourth shutout in 15 starts as the Giants won their fourth game in a row and 40th of the season by steamrolling the Everett Silvertips 7-0 on Saturday night in the Western Hockey League.
Tucker, Vancouver's backup netminder, has not lost in regulation so far this season. The 17-year-old rookie from Victoria sits near the bottom of the Central Scouting Bureau's midseason rankings for North American goaltenders at 28th, but with a goals-against average of 1.55 and a .930 save percentage - and the aforementioned four shutouts in limited playing time - it's possible his stock will rise before June.
The Giants (40-4-0-3) were the first WHL team to clinch a playoff spot with a 5-1 victory over the Kamloops Blazers on Friday.
On Saturday, Craig Cunningham, Nick Ross and James Wright scored to put Vancouver up 3-0 at the end of the first period. Jonathon Blum, Alex Rodgers and Garry Nunn scored in the second to make it 6-0 as the Giants outshot the Silvertips 41-17 in the first 40 minutes.
Elsewhere in the WHL, it was: Brandon 6, Kootenay 5 (SO); Spokane 5, Tri-City 2; Saskatoon 3, Edmonton 1; Kelowna 5, Kamloops 2; Medicine Hat 5, Prince George 2; Prince Albert 4, Moose Jaw 3; Red Deer 5, Lethbridge 3; and Seattle 3, Portland 1.
At Vancouver, Nunn finished with two goals and an assist, while Cunningham and Blum had a goal and an assist each for the Giants. Lance Bouma added three assists and Evander Kane and Brendan Gallagher both contributed two helpers.
Everett (21-21-5-1) netminding duty was split between starter Thomas Heemskerk, who stopped 26 of 30 shots, and Kent Simpson, who allowed three goals on 17 shots.
Wheat Kings 6, Ice 5 (SO)
At Brandon, Man., Andrew Clark scored a hat trick and potted the winner in the shootout to give the Wheat Kings the victory over Kootenay.
Jay Fehr and Mark Stone added singles for Brandon (31-14-2-1).
Andrew Bailey, Tylan Stephens, Joe Antilla, Joey Leach and Drew Czerwonka replied for the Ice (23-20-2-5).
Chiefs 5, Americans 2
At Spokane, Wash., Mitch Wahl scored two goals to lead the Chiefs to their eighth straight victory as they toppled Tri-City.
Brady Calla, Jared Spurgeon and Ondrej Roman also scored for Spokane (30-14-0-3), which trails the Americans by just four points in the U.S. Division.
Brett Plouffe and Spencer Asuchak replied for Tri-City (32-14-0-3).
Blades 3, Oil Kings 1
At Saskatoon, Adam Chorneyko scored the eventual winner on a second-period power-play to keep the red-hot Blades on the winning track as they downed Edmonton.
Milan Kytnar opened the scoring and Curtis Hamilton added an empty-netter for Saskatoon (35-11-3-1), which is undefeated in regulation in its past 12 games.
Brent Raedeke had the lone marker for the Oil Kings (22-25-2-4), who are tied with Regina and Prince Albert for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot.
Rockets 5, Blazers 2
At Kamloops, B.C., Ian Duval scored twice as Kelowna powered past the Blazers.
Mikael Backlund, Brandon McMillan and Colin Long also scored for the Rockets (27-19-0-2), who went 3-for-3 on the power play.
Curtis Kulchar and Scott Wasden replied for Kamloops (23-24-1-4), which has lost two straight.
Tigers 5, Cougars 2
At Medicine Hat, Alta., Sean Ringrose had two goals and an assist as the Tigers clawed their way to victory against Prince George.
Linden Vey also scored twice for Medicine Hat (27-17-3-3), while Colton Grant added a goal.
Brett Connolly and Marcus Watson replied for the Cougars (19-29-0-2).
Raiders 4, Warriors 3
At Moose Jaw, Sask., Dustin Cameron scored twice to lift Prince Albert over the Warriors.
Ryan Harrison and Bryce Lamb also scored for the Raiders (23-26-3-1).
Jesse Paradis, Thomas Frazee and Chad Suer found the net for Moose Jaw (14-32-1-1).
Rebels 5, Hurricanes 3
At Red Deer, Alta., Cody Esposito and Carter Smith each scored a pair of goals as the Rebels held off a late charge by Lethbridge.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins added a goal and an assist for Red Deer (17-25-1-6).
Carter Bancks and Carter Ashton found the net in the third period for the Hurricanes (25-22-2-2), but it wasn't enough. Bancks also scored in the first and assisted on Ashton's marker.
Thunderbirds 3, Winter Hawks 1
At Kent, Wash., Greg Scott scored his 16th and 17th goals of the season to help the Thunderbirds defeat Portland.
Jim O'Brien scored an empty-netter for Seattle (21-24-1-3).
Max Brandl scored his first goal of the season for the Winter Hawks (12-31-1-2).