Memorial Cup down, NHL draft to go for DiPietro

 

 

By Jolene Perron

 

“You’re at a loss for words at that point. I think you do so much throughout your whole career and you’re never guaranteed winning. Very few times do you have the privilege to win in a season and to be able to do that especially from around here is something special that I hold dear and that I never will take for granted.”

When Michael DiPietro started out on the ice as a young boy, he never imagined he’d go pro, but at the end of the week he will be in Chicago, waited to get drafted by an NHL team. The six-foot tall, 193 pound goalie is relying on his compete level, momentum, work ethic and ability to make the right save at the right time to get him through.

“I think going in with an open mind, a clear mind, you don’t want to get your hopes too high or too low,” said DiPietro, who made the Memorial Cup all-star team during the Spitfires’ recent triumph. “If I hear my name called in the first round I’ll be ecstatic, if I hear my name called in the second round I’ll be pumped, I do recognize goalie is a unique position and not everyone is going to draft a six foot goalie. I think the teams that do believe in me and know what I can do will fall in the right place.”

Peter Leardi, owner of 67 Richmond, dressed Michael DiPietro for his NHL draft. He has known DiPietro since he was in diapers, and said, “for Michael to come back and give me the honor of doing his suit for his NHL draft, it’s a big honor for me.”

Peter Leardi, owner of 67 Richmond, dressed Michael DiPietro for his NHL draft. He has known DiPietro since he was in diapers, and said, “for Michael to come back and give me the honor of doing his suit for his NHL draft, it’s a big honor for me.”

When it came to his OHL draft day, family and friends surrounded DiPietro. He said he had two TVs on in the house.

“It’s a feeling out process,” said DiPietro. “I had team Ontario where I won gold there during the Canadian Winter Games so I felt pretty confident going into the draft but anything can happen with trading picks and so on, so I knew Windsor had the first pick in the second but I really wasn’t sure coming into it. I kept an open mind.”

One of the obstacles DiPietro has had to overcome as a goalie is certainly his size, but he has adjusted his gameplay and often plays more aggressively outside of the paint and gets into spots where he can cut down the angle, especially in upper portions of the net the way taller goalies would. DiPietro explains he just has to move an extra couple inches and his speed, agility and quickness allow him to do just that.

During the NHL scouting combine May 29 through June 3 in Buffalo, DiPietro explained he met with 16 teams.
“I’m not naïve to the fact that, if a team I was talking to throughout the year didn’t want to interview me, it was because they already knew so much about me,” said DiPietro. “It was a time for teams who really didn’t know me to get to know me and have the opportunity to meet with me face to face. I went in with the approach that I only have one chance to make a good first impression and that was my mindset going into it. With the testing at the end, the teams were aware how long my season was, they weren’t really too worried about the testing aspect, but I told them I wanted to test and show them my work ethic.”

This past regular season, DiPietro had a .971 save percentage and 2.35 goals against average with the Windsor Spitfires. He showed similar numbers in their seven-game series against defending OHL champs, the London Knights, with a .917 save percentage and 2.48 goals against.

In DiPietro’s first year with the Windsor Spitfires, he played 29 games, which he said is pretty good for a rookie goalie and this allowed him to build his momentum and bring it forward into this season. He said while not every game goes the way you want it to, it’s all about the way you rebound and his rookie season allowed him to learn from his mistakes and continue improving.

Amherstburg native Michael DiPietro will be in Chicago this weekend for the NHL draft. The Windsor Spitfires goalie hopes to be selected by a National Hockey League team.

Amherstburg native Michael DiPietro will be in Chicago this weekend for the NHL draft. The Windsor Spitfires goalie hopes to be selected by a National Hockey League team.

“I think my consistency definitely changed, my whole overall lookout, the way you approach games day in and day out,” said DiPietro. “Your body is your number one priority throughout the season because if it’s feeling good then that translates onto the ice and I think that was the biggest change and allowed me to play the games I did this year and have the success I did.”

As he heads off to Chicago at the end of the week, dressed for success in a suit by Peter Leardi at 67 Richmond, DiPietro said even making it this far was something he had only hoped for, but it was a one in a million chance and never truly believed it would come true.

“I think back then you have a dream,” said DiPietro. “You want to play in the NHL, you want to be a part of an organization and to be honest I never really thought it would happen. You believe it, you hope one day, and that’s why you play the game and one day you hope to make a career out of it. But I don’t play the game because of a job, I play because it’s something I love to do.”

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