Rookie netminder Matteo Esposito looked cool as ice in his first home ice BCHL start, backstopping his Chilliwack Chiefs to a 3-0 win Saturday night at Prospera Centre.
Esposito stopped 27 shots to get the shutout and Vimal Sukumaran scored twice as the Chiefs snapped a four game winless skid.
This game was never going to measure up to the classic the Chiefs played Friday in a 2-1 overtime classic, so it didn’t even try.
The Chiefs and Grizzlies played a scrambly snoozer where blue chip scoring chances could be counted on one hand.
The Chiefs were badly out-played in the first period, but escaped with the only goal.
Sukumaran got his fifth of the young season, a pretty one that saw him collect the puck in the neutral zone, fly into the Victoria zone, swoop behind the net and tuck a wraparound inside.
Esposito had a solid 20 in the Chilliwack net.
Making his first home start, the 18 year old Connecticut kid turned aside all 17 shots he faced. His Chiefs tested Victoria stopper Matthew Galajda with just three pucks.
The home team had a much better middle frame.
Carter Cochrane doubled the home team’s lead just 5:15 into period two. His low wrist shot from the point evaded Galajda through a maze of players, giving Cochrane his first of the year.
The Chiefs added their third goal on just their sixth shot of the game at 9:22 when Jeremy Germain beat Galajda from the top of the right faceoff circle.
Leading 3-0 through 40, Chilliwack locked it down in the final frame.
The Grizzlies sent just three pucks Esposito’s way, none of them dangerous. On a late power play, Victoria pulled Galajda to get a six-on-four, only to see Sukumaran ice the game with a rink-length shot into the empty cage.
The Chiefs improved to 2-2-1-1.
The three stars were Esposito (first), Sukumaran (second) and Cochrane (third).
The Fortis BC Energy Player of the Game was Germain.
The next home game is Wednesday night versus the Surrey Eagles.