Windsor Spitfires

DiPietro signs three-year contract with Canucks

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Michael DiPietro was drafted by the Vancouver Canucks last June and now he is officially a member of their organization.

DiPietro, who turns 19 this Saturday, has signed his first contract with the Canucks with the announcement coming last week.

“It’s a standard three-year entry level contract,” he said.

DiPietro was in Toronto for a prospects development camp when he got the word.

“My agent and the Vancouver organization had been in contact about a contract for about three weeks,” he said.

Amherstburg native and Windsor Spitfires goalie signs his contract with the Vancouver Canucks, the NHL team that drafted him in June 2017. This photo, used with his permission, was posted on his Twitter account with the message “So happy to announce that I have signed my first NHL contract with the @Canucks ! Thank you for everyone who has helped me get to this point in my life and now the real work begins! See you soon Vancouver 🏒”

While knowing the deal was close to complete, DiPietro said he got up one morning in his hotel room and saw three missed calls on his phone. He returned the calls to find out the deal was done.

“I ended up signing the contract in the lobby of my hotel that morning. It just kind of snowballed from there,” he said.

Noting he was glad to be drafted by Vancouver, DiPietro said he is grateful for the opportunity to become an official member of the Canucks organization. It is another positive step for DiPietro as he is the current OHL Goaltender of the Year and also was one of the three goalies on Team Canada at the recent World Hockey Championship in Denmark.

“Obviously going to Denmark was a great opportunity to learn a lot and I think I did that,” said DiPietro.

As it looks now, DiPietro said it appears he will be starting the 2018-19 hockey season back with the Windsor Spitfires. He hopes to keep improving while guarding the Spits’ net and also hopes for a trip to the World Junior Hockey Championship this Christmas.

In the meantime, he plans on maintaining his training regimen. While he has a development camp in Vancouver, a possible World Junior camp invite in Kamloops and training camps in both Windsor and Vancouver to prepare for, he plans on finding time to hit the gym as well as the ice with his goalie coaches to help him get ready for the season.

DiPietro said he is grateful for the support his hometown of Amherstburg has given him and gives the town “a big thank you” for all the support he has received. He offers similar thanks to Windsor-Essex County as well as all the Spitfires fans everywhere for the support he has received.

“Hopefully we’ll keep building in the right direction.”

 

DiPietro heading to Denmark for World Hockey Championships

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Amherstburg native Michael DiPietro is heading to Denmark to compete in the World Hockey Championships.

The 18-year-old Windsor Spitfires goalie will be the third goalie on Team Canada at the 2018 IIHF World Hockey Championship and compete with and against rosters filled with many NHL players.

“(It’s) definitely intimidating at first. I have a lot of butterflies in my stomach right now,” DiPietro told the Spitfires official website.

DiPietro, who was drafted in the third round (64th overall) by the Vancouver Canucks, in the June 2017 NHL Entry Draft, knows he has to try and “hold my own” against NHL stars that are part of the tournament. He said it is an honour to be named to the team.

“It’s going to be a great learning experience for myself,” he said.

Going to the IIHF World Hockey Championship is “kind of unbelievable” for an 18-year-old goalie and he said he is going to try and learn the habits of established NHL players.

“It’s good for me to pick the brains of not only the players, but the goalies and see what I can learn from them too,” he told the Spitfires’ website.

The full video clip can be viewed at www.windsorspitfires.com.

With the Spitfires in the 2017-18 OHL season, DiPietro played in 56 games and had a 29-21-3-1 record and a 2.79 goals against average. His save percentage was .910 and he had seven shutouts.

Spitfire player Michael DiPietro visits Stella Maris

 

 

By Jolene Perron

 

Amherstburg native and Spitfires player Michael DiPietro had a chance to visit his old grade school to speak with students about the importance of education.

Stella Maris students gave DiPietro a very warm welcome when he walked into their gymnasium. Principal Sophie DiPaolo said through the Adopt-A-School program, they get two batches of tickets that they use as incentive for the students. Any time they are a good friend, they show compassion, they’ve made improvements, anything good, the teacher recognizes them with Rockstar tickets. From those Rockstar tickets, the school draws three tickets from primary, three from Junior and three from senior, and they give out packages of four Spitfire tickets for them to go see the Spitfires home game.

Michael DiPietro made a grand entrance into the Stella Maris gymnasium, where students greeted him with cheers, Spitfire colored pompoms, and smiles.

“We’re really fortunate to have that here at Stella Maris and the kids love it, they love the Spitfires,” said DiPaolo. “We try to give back to the Spitfires because of what they do for us and then every year they send a Spitfire player here. This is the first year we’ve been able to have Michael DiPietro because his schedule would never allow it. In High School it’s a little bit harder but he’s in University now so we were excited to know he was coming back here and of course you want to do something special for him.”

In addition to speaking with the gymnasium full of students, DiPietro also had a pizza lunch with a handful of Rockstar students who had the ability to sit and chat with him over a pizza lunch.

“I went to this grade school, I had so many memories here, so many teachers. That’s something that I’ll always remember,” said DiPietro. “Hopefully I can keep coming back and visiting because every time I step in the door I just remember old memories. It’s definitely special.”

During his visit, he also pointed out his fifth grade teacher, Mike Mathieson and gifted a signed goalie stick to him. DiPaolo said no one can say enough good things about DiPietro and he is a great role model for the students.

“Kids always want to look up to someone and he was not only a great student here and does talk about how important education is but he’s a great role model in the community,” said DiPaolo. “He’s just a wonderful role model in general, a good person, good everything, with or without the Spitfire jersey.”

DiPietro receives “Key to the Town”

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Michael DiPietro’s hockey talents have led him to the Windsor Spitfires with those same talents opening doors for him in Vancouver.

However, his hometown of Amherstburg has given him the “Key to the Town” and the knowledge that the door is always open for him to come home.

DiPietro, 18, backstopped the Spitfires to a Memorial Cup in June and was presented the key by Mayor Aldo DiCarlo Thursday morning in front of town hall. DiPietro said the recognition was something that he will cherish.

“It’s a great honour,” said DiPietro. “Being from Amherstburg and to be able to get the first key ever handed out by the mayor to the town, is something I hold very dear to me. I’m very humbled.”

Windsor Spitfires goalie and Vancouver Canucks draft choice Michael DiPietro (left) accepts a Key to the Town from Mayor Aldo DiCarlo.

Windsor Spitfires goalie and Vancouver Canucks draft choice Michael DiPietro (left) accepts a Key to the Town from Mayor Aldo DiCarlo.

DiPietro was joined by many friends and family members and was quick to give credit to his family for the honour.

“I’m grateful for all they’ve done for me and continue to do for me,” said DiPietro.

Noting he was glad to have so many people there for the ceremony, the Vancouver Canucks’ third round draft choice added it was a lot of hard work and dedication to get where he is and his family has been a big part of it.

Even with a ceremony in his honour, DiPietro continues to work on his craft and getting to the next level. He awoke at 5:30 a.m. Thursday and trained in the gym and said he was scheduled to be on the ice in the afternoon.

“It’s a good busy,” he said of his schedule. “I’m definitely not complaining on how busy I am.”

Training camp for the Spitfires starts Aug. 27 and DiPietro adds he heads to Penticton, British Columbia for the start of the Canucks’ training camp Sept. 6. He anticipates having more of a leadership role with the Spitfires this season and hopes to teach younger players and “bring them along.”

DiCarlo acknowledged that a “Key to the Town” is usually given to “people of age with a lifetime of achievements behind them.” He added that “Amherstburg is rebuilding, riding a three-year positive turnaround with a very bright future.”

The mayor said “it follows that the first key go to someone young, a youth from our community – Amherstburg’s future.

“I can think of no better example than Michael DiPietro,” said DiCarlo. “At his young age, he has already accomplished a great deal with a lifetime of achievements still ahead of him.”

Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale, Mayor Aldo DiCarlo and Councillor Diane Pouget congratulate Michael DiPietro (second from left) on receiving the Key to the Town

Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale, Mayor Aldo DiCarlo and Councillor Diane Pouget congratulate Michael DiPietro (second from left) on receiving the Key to the Town

DiPietro’s hockey career started when he was six-years-old with the Amherstburg Minor Hockey Association. He advanced to Sun County AAA when he was ten-years-old. In 2015, he was the first goalie selected in the OHL draft when the Spitfires drafted him in the second round. He also won a gold medal for Team Ontario at the Canada Winter Games and competed for the Canadian national men’s U17 team.

In 2016, he competed for the Canadian national U18 team with 2017 being a big year so far with the Memorial Cup and World Junior Camp invite as well as being drafted by the Canucks.

“Michael’s talent, continued hard work and dedication to his sport has undoubtedly allowed him to reach his goals,” said DiCarlo. “It will continue to propel him forward and will undoubtedly have a positive influence as an exemplary role model on the youth of our community.”

DiCarlo added that no matter where DiPietro’s career takes him, “he will always be welcome in Amherstburg” and hoped that DiPietro considers the town home for the rest of his life.

Spits goalie does meet and greet with Memorial Cup at Seasons

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Residents at Seasons Amherstburg got a chance to meet a local hockey player who has done well for himself in recent months as well as the prestigious trophy his team won.

Amherstburg native and Windsor Spitfires goalie Michael DiPietro brought the Memorial Cup to the retirement community last Wednesday night where residents and staff spent one hour asking him questions, getting his autograph and taking pictures with him.

Windsor Spitfires goalie Michael DiPietro brought the Memorial Cup to Seasons Amherstburg last Wednesday night. He stands with his aunt June Ackley and grandmother Betty DeLuca.

Windsor Spitfires goalie Michael DiPietro brought the Memorial Cup to Seasons Amherstburg last Wednesday night. He stands with his aunt June Ackley and grandmother Betty DeLuca.

Telling the residents that “I grew up five minutes from here,” the 18-year-old DiPietro noted he has been busy this summer with part of his agenda being to do appearances like the one at Seasons. He is also busy getting ready for the 2017-18 hockey season, as he works out five times per week and is skating four times per week.

The Memorial Cup champion’s summer also includes a trip to Plymouth, Michigan as part of his bid to make the Canadian World Junior hockey team. The 2017 World Junior Summer Showcase runs July 28-Aug. 5 with 12 international competitions between Canada, Finland, Sweden and the United States.

“Hopefully, I’ll be in Buffalo on Boxing Day,” he said, as that is the day the 2018 World Junior Hockey Championships start.

DiPietro was drafted in the third round of the NHL draft by the Vancouver Canucks last month and heads for the west coast in September for a “Young Stars” tournament and training camp.

“It’s definitely a quick summer for me,” he said.

Spitfires goalie Michael DiPietro has his photo taken with 100-year-old Jean Farr during his visit July 26.

Spitfires goalie Michael DiPietro has his photo taken with 100-year-old Jean Farr during his visit July 26.

Responding to a question from a member of the audience, DiPietro said he has a good relationship with new Spitfires head coach Trevor Letowski.

“We have a happy medium,” said DiPietro.

One of the residents getting a signed poster was former mayor Bill Gibb, who now resides at Seasons.

“Just having (DiPietro) in Amherstburg is a big event,” said Gibb. “I’ve been a hockey fan all of my life. When you meet one of the greats, it’s a pleasure.”

Gibb said hockey players work hard as it’s not an easy sport to play.

Amherstburg resident Michael DiPietro shares a laugh with Doug Ramsey during DiPietro's visit to Seasons Amherstburg July 26. DiPietro is the goalie for the Memorial Cup champion Windsor Spitfires.

Amherstburg resident Michael DiPietro shares a laugh with Doug Ramsey during DiPietro’s visit to Seasons Amherstburg July 26. DiPietro is the goalie for the Memorial Cup champion Windsor Spitfires.

“Having him show up here was a nice thing,” said Gibb.

Jean Farr was also happy to meet DiPietro, recalling the days when she lived in London with husband Bernard and they would travel to Toronto to see games.

“My husband and I loved hockey,” she said. “We would go anywhere to see hockey. That was my husband’s sport.”

Members of DiPietro’s family were also there for the occasion.

“I’ve known this kid from day one,” said June Ackley, DiPietro’s aunt. “I’ve got a picture of him when he’s about three years old.”

Betty DeLuca, DiPietro’s grandmother, sat in the front row in Seasons’ theatre room in her Spitfires’ sweatshirt watching her grandson sign autographs.

“It’s hard to believe he’s done so well,” she said, adding she was very proud of her grandson.