Shin­ing in the crease

DiPi­etro do­ing his part to get Wind­sor to Memo­rial Cup fi­nal

Cape Breton Post - - Sports - BY KYLE CICERELLA

Wind­sor Spit­fires coach Rocky Thomp­son isn’t ask­ing his team to play a per­fect game at the Memo­rial Cup.

It hasn’t been needed with Michael DiPi­etro in net.

“When we make mis­takes we have a great goal­tender who can make a save for us,’’ said Thomp­son.

“In a tight game, play­offs, what­ever, you’re gonna need your goalie to make a big save and (he’s) made more than one.’’

DiPi­etro is out­play­ing his com­pe­ti­tion at the Memo­rial Cup, and is a big rea­son why the Spit­fires won three straight games to reach the four-team tour­na­ment fi­nal.

The 17-year-old goal­tender leads the high-scor­ing com­pe­ti­tion with a 1.67 goals-against av­er­age and .939 save per­cent­age. In com­par­i­son, Saint John Sea Dogs net­min­der Cal­lum Booth is sec­ond with a 3.57 GAA and .882 save per­cent­age.

In each of Wind­sor’s vic­to­ries, DiPi­etro was called upon at a cer­tain point to bail his team out. Ev­ery time he came through.

“I like that I can be a game

changer, a fac­tor, I love the pres­sure,’’ said DiPi­etro, who is el­i­gi­ble for this sum­mer’s NHL Draft.

DiPi­etro, six-foot 193 pounds, de­cided at nine years old he wanted to be­come a goal­tender af­ter watch­ing his step­brother Mark play the po­si­tion. Through ma­jor novice he was a de­fence­man, but was in­spired by the re­ac­tion Mark got from a crowd when mak­ing a save even in youth house league.

The Amher­st­burg, Ont., na­tive said from that point for­ward goal­tend­ing was what he wanted to do and he grew up idol­iz­ing L.A. Kings net­min­der Jonathan Quick.

“The way he bat­tles, com­petes, I like to model my game af­ter him.,’’ said DiPi­etro.

In Wind­sor’s tour­na­ment opener, DiPi­etro helped to stave off a late bar­rage by the Que­bec Ma­jor Ju­nior Hockey League cham­pion Saint John Sea Dogs to hold on for a 3-2 win — the only one-goal game at the tour­na­ment.

He wasn’t needed of­ten in the Spit­fires’ sec­ond game against the West­ern Hockey League cham­pion Seattle Thun­der­birds, but a des­per­a­tion save on the first shift of the game while tied at ze­ros set the tone.

Wind­sor re­sponded with three goals in 38 sec­onds, ty­ing the Memo­rial Cup record for the three fastest goals set back in 1978, en route to a 7-1 vic­tory.

“I saw it and was like ‘oh god,’ and I got my stick on it, got me in the game,’’ he said about the puck he pulled off the goal-line.

DiPi­etro then stopped 33-of35 shots — in­clud­ing 28 in the fi­nal two pe­ri­ods — for a 4-2 win against the ex­plo­sive Erie Ot­ters, OHL cham­pi­ons.

CP PHOTO

Wind­sor Spit­fires goalie Michael DiPi­etro looks for the puck dur­ing Memo­rial Cup round-robin ac­tion against the Erie Ot­ters in Wind­sor on Wed­nes­day.

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