Canucks prospect DiPi­etro tear­ing up ju­nior ranks

Agile goalie in the run­ning for a spot on Cana­dian team for World Ju­nior Cham­pi­onships

The Province - - FRONT PAGE - Steve Ewen sewen@post­

Give them a lit­tle face paint and mo­hawks and Van­cou­ver Canucks net­min­ders Ja­cob Mark­strom and Anders Nils­son could make you think of the Road War­riors, the pow­er­house pro wrestling tag team of yes­ter­year.

In that vein, Canucks goalie prospect Michael DiPi­etro of­fers up images of some speedy, high-fly­ing, cruis­er­weight type.

When it comes to his time in the crease these days, DiPi­etro is giv­ing you rea­son to be­lieve that he could have a long pro ca­reer, de­spite not fit­ting the cur­rent big, strap­ping goalie stereo­type. He’s sparkled in the On­tario Hockey League, putting up a 12-5-1-0 mark along with a 2.44 goals against av­er­age and a .922 save per­cent­age for the Wind­sor Spit­fires, and he’s in the run­ning for a spot on the Cana­dian team for the World Ju­nior Cham­pi­onships.

He’s a mem­ber of the Team OHL squad that played the Rus­sians Mon­day in Sud­bury as part of the CIBC Canada Rus­sia Se­ries that Hockey Canada says it likes to use to help fi­nal­ize play­ers for its na­tional ju­nior team try­out camp. DiPi­etro, 18, was one of four goalies to take part in Hockey Canada’s sum­mer de­vel­op­ment camp.

At 6-foot and 207 pounds, he was the short­est guy in that quar­tet. Mark­strom (6-foot-6, 196 pounds) and Nils­son (6-foot-6, 229 pounds) tower over him as well.

“Ab­so­lutely a guy his size can play at the next level,” said Wind­sor goalie coach Perry Wil­son. “One of things that Michael does well is get square to the puck. I also like his chances be­cause he reads the play so well. He works hard to get to where he needs to get to early. His con­sis­tency in do­ing that, I think, re­ally helps him.”

There are those who will tell you that the dis­crim­i­na­tion against shorter goalies at the NHL level is start­ing to fade away. For in­stance, in a Sport­ing News ar­ti­cle about DiPi­etro, Adam Her­man quoted InGoal Mag­a­zine staff writer Paul Camp­bell as say­ing this: “Size still helps. But the po­si­tion has ad­vanced so much in the last decade that a gi­ant with poor tech­nique is go­ing to be picked to pieces by today’s shoot­ers, com­pared to a tech­ni­cally sound goalie a cou­ple inches shorter.”

That said, the draft num­bers haven’t quite caught up to those ideals just yet.

There were 21 goalies picked in last sum­mer’s NHL Draft. DiPi­etro was the third one se­lected, with the Canucks us­ing a third-round choice, 64th over­all on the Amher­st­burg, Ont., na­tive who back­stopped the host Spit­fires to the 2017 Me­mo­rial Cup cham­pi­onship.

DiPi­etro was the short­est net­min­der among those who had their names called. Seven were listed at 6-foot-4 or taller, in­clud­ing first rounder Jake Oet­tinger, a 6-foot-4, 218 pounder from Bos­ton Univer­sity who went 26th over­all to the Dal­las Stars.

In the past three drafts, there have been 63 goalies se­lected. Erik Kall­gren, a 2015 sev­enth rounder to the Ari­zona Coy­otes, was the lone one listed at un­der 6-feet, com­ing in at 5-foot-11 and 157 pounds, ac­cord­ing to Kall­gren, now 21, is listed at 6-foot-2 and 185 pounds by AIK, his Swedish league team.

For com­par­i­son, three of the first eight skaters se­lected in this past sum­mer’s draft were listed at un­der 6-feet.

“He’s heard all his life that he’s too small,” Wil­son said of DiPi­etro. “I can’t see why he can’t win at this one, too. He’s got a lit­tle bit of Hen­rik Lundqvist in him, ex­cept he plays out fur­ther. He’s about his re­ac­tions and his reads. He’s a throw­back. He has a lit­tle Marty Brodeur in him in that way. Michael’s abil­ity to get to square to the puck you can’t teach. And he’s about trust­ing his reads and go­ing af­ter it. He’s un­canny in that way.”

DiPi­etro is on Hockey Canada’s radar. He’s at­tended their Pro­gram of Ex­cel­lence goal­tend­ing camps the past three sum­mers. He was part of their en­try in the 2016 Ivan Hlinka Me­mo­rial Cup, which fin­ished fifth.

He ob­vi­ously drew con­sid­er­able at­ten­tion at last spring’s Me­mo­rial Cup, where he was named top goalie and to the all-star team.

“He’s won at ev­ery level,” said Wil­son. “He’s been on the big stage. The way he played at the Me­mo­rial Cup last year was pretty phe­nom­e­nal.”

As for DiPi­etro’s thoughts on be­ing in a Canucks or­ga­ni­za­tion that al­ready also fea­tures Thatcher Demko, 21, a 2014 sec­ond-round draft pick, in its net brigade, Wil­son said this: “Michael is such a pos­i­tive kid. He wel­comes ev­ery chal­lenge.”

The Spit­fires hired Wil­son last Au­gust, when Jim Bedard jumped to the Dal­las Stars. Wil­son had worked with DiPi­etro as a young­ster in the past. He says that one of the things DiPi­etro is striv­ing for this sea­son is im­proved puck han­dling.

“His de­ci­sion mak­ing is get­ting bet­ter and he’s mov­ing the puck quicker and quicker all the time,” said Wil­son. “I wouldn’t say he’s elite yet, but he’s on his way.

“His work ethic is un­matched. He al­ways wants to get bet­ter. He’s never sat­is­fied. It’s part of what sep­a­rates him from the crowd.”

DiPi­etro has been hot in goal of late.


Goalie Michael DiPi­etro has de­liv­ered a 2.44 goals against av­er­age and a .922 save per­cent­age for the Wind­sor Spit­fires.


Canucks prospect Michael DiPi­etro was the third goalie picked dur­ing last sum­mer’s NHL Draft — 64th over­all.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.