Lucas Szyszka was brought in to stabilize the Chilliwack Chiefs’ goaltending, and so far it’s mission accomplished.
The 18-year-old has looked good in three starts since coming up from the USHL’s Des Moines Buccaneers. In back to back starts on the Island last weekend, the Illinois product stopped a combined 63 of 68 shots in a 5-3 win over Cowichan Valley and a 3-1 loss to Victoria.
Szyszka was peppered with 39 pucks in the Cowichan game (Oct. 21), out-dueling Caps counterpart Lukas Renaud. He held his team in the game through 40 minutes and shut the door in the final frame as Sasha Teleguine and Abram Wiebe scored to give Chilliwack the W.
Masson Kesselring, Duncan Ramsay and Bryan Jones also scored for the Chiefs.
Maloney will often have his other goalie play the back half of a back to back, but he left Austin McNicholas on the bench for the Oct. 22 visit to Victoria. Szyszka responded with another solid outing, stopping 27 of 29 shots. The third Grizzlies goal was scored into an empty net in the final minute.
“Lucas has played extremely well and done everything we’ve asked him to do,” said Chiefs hockey boss Brian Maloney. “He’s given us a chance to win every game.”
Dylan Kinch scored the lone Chilliwack goal, his team leading fourth of the season. That was the only puck eluding Victoria keeper Oliver Auyeung-Ashton, who earned first-star honours with a 40 save performance.
Chilliwack comes out of the weekend with a record of 3-6-0-1, good for sixth place in the nine-team Coastal conference standings. They’re back on the Island this weekend for games Friday (Oct. 28) at Alberni Valley (4-6-1-0) and Saturday (Oct. 29) at Victoria (5-4-0-2).
The Chiefs are playing through a stretch of six straight road games. After facing Salmon Arm on Nov. 4 and Vernon on Nov. 5 they’ll be back home for a Remembrance Day matchup with the Coquitlam Express.