Bakersfield, CA - He's yet to make a guarantee ahead of a playoff game like his uncle Mark Messier but the playoff performer gene may be a dominant allele in his body.
"I don't know if it's something that's in your blood or born with it or anything like that," laughed Luke Esposito following Thursday's practice. "Everyone wants to be somebody who can perform in the playoffs when the pressure is on."
Series tied 1-1 heading into Game 3. First ever AHL playoff home game in Bakersfield. Six thousand people screaming for 60 minutes. Talk about pressure.
Yet, Esposito made his mark, recording two assists and going plus-2 in a 5-2 victory over the Colorado Eagles. Simply put, the 5-foot-10 centreman answered the call.
"I got a little taste of playoff hockey last year with Grand Rapids, so I guess I had a little idea of what was coming," said Esposito. "As the series has gone on here, I've just tried to find my rhythm and find different ways to help the team. It was nice to be able to contribute in Game 3."
Video: RAW | Luke Esposito 04.26.19
After spending four years at Harvard University and compiling 89 points (131 games) in the NCAA, the forward turned pro in April 2017 signing with the Grand Rapids Griffins.
However, adjustment to the pro game required patience and perseverance from the Greenwich, CT native. Esposito bounced around, splitting time between Grands Rapids (AHL) and Toledo (ECHL) in his rookie year.
"Last year wasn't exactly what I dreamt it would be but it made me a better player, better person and I learned how to persevere and just stick with things," said Esposito. "Everybody wants to come in and be an impact player but the reality of it is there are only so many spots.
"I ended up getting a chance at the end of last year and I tried to build off that."
Video: CONDORS | Bako Brotherhood 04.26.19
His late-season play made him a regular in the lineup just before the 2018 Calder Cup Playoffs rolled around. The Griffins' playoffs lasted five games, losing out to the Manitoba Moose in the first round, with Esposito recording one assist.
The forward signed an AHL contract with the Condors on Oct 1, 2018 - just four days before the team began their season. A late addition, to say the least.
Now, Esposito is seen killing important penalties and trusted to take pivotal faceoffs at the end of games.
Valuable assets come playoff time. Guaranteed.