Vancouver Canucks’ goaltending prospect Michael DiPietro has been playing lights out thus far in the OHL playoffs for the Ottawa 67’s.
There were some Vancouver Canucks fans who were concerned that Michael DiPietro would have his confidence ruined after being thrown to the Sharks — literally and figuratively, earlier this season when he was forced to make his NHL debut at just 19 years of age.
The Canucks were without a backup goaltender after Thatcher Demko went down with an injury shortly after the Canucks had dealt Anders Nilsson to the Ottawa Senators — and Mike McKenna, the goaltender that came from Ottawa, being claimed off waivers by the Philadelphia Flyers.
DiPietro was called up from the Ottawa 67’s on an emergency basis, much like Dylan Ferguson last season with the Vegas Golden Knights. On February 11th, it was announced that DiPietro would be forced to make his debut against the San Jose Sharks, with a tired Canucks team playing in front of him.
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You likely all know what happened already — so to spare the details, let’s just say the final score was 7-2 in favour of the Sharks. A tired Jacob Markstrom who also had apparently tweaked something in the morning skate meant DiPietro wasn’t going to get out of the net until the final buzzer. DiPietro was forced to take that bullet for the Canucks before returning to the 67’s.
This past week, DiPietro backstopped the 67’s to four straight wins, advancing to the Eastern Conference Final after beating the Sudbury Wolves in the best of seven series. Game four of the series was a pure goaltending battle. DiPietro is hands down the top goaltending prospect in the OHL. The second best goaltending prospect in the OHL is Buffalo Sabres prospect, Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen. Try saying that one three times fast.
Luukkonen also happens to be the goaltender for the Wolves — and as both teams were on the hunt to go on to round 3, they needed stellar performances from their goaltenders. Both goaltenders delivered for their teams in game four of the series, as the game went into triple overtime before Ottawa was able to seal the deal.
The two netminders combined for 118 saves before the overtime winner was scored. DiPietro made 61 saves in his team’s victory. DiPietro is now 8-0-0 with a 2.26GAA and a .915SV% in the OHL playoffs thus far. The marathon game also marked the longest game in Ottawa 67‘s history.
I know it’s still just junior, but DiPietro didn’t seem to lose any confidence after his first NHL loss to San Jose — and it sure doesn’t seem that DiPietro is playing with a lack of confidence in the OHL playoffs, that’s for sure. DiPietro and the 67’s will take on either Oshawa or Niagara in the Eastern Conference final of the OHL playoffs.