DIPIETRO MAKES A STATEMENT IN A 6-2 WIN OVER THE HEAT
ABBOTSFORD, BC -- The last two seasons have been a roller-coaster ride for Abbotsford Canucks goaltender Michael DiPietro.
In 2020-21, DiPietro only played four games as the entire world entered the COVID-19 pandemic. This season, he played one game with the Vancouver Canucks and only 19 with Abbotsford.
I think, for myself, (it’s just) a lot of frustration pent up,” DiPietro explained. I have got to channel it in the right ways. For myself, whenever I’m called upon, I just want to give my team the best chance to win. I love the guys in the room… we’re all super close. Some things are out of the your control at times. Everybody’s got a different path. For myself, it’s just making sure that when your number gets called, you’re ready to go from puck drop.”
He has used that frustration as motivation.
DiPietro got his number called to play on Sunday against the Stockton Heat. It was the second half of a weekend series between the two teams.
Stockton came into the game leading the Pacific Division with 64 points. They only had eight regular season losses.
On Sunday, as Abbotsford honoured and celebrated Black History Month, it marked a ninth. Abbotsford defeated Stockton 6-2 and DiPietro made 34 saves.
That included 15 saves in the first period alone.
“It’s kind of weird,” DiPietro said. “I feel like I just black out during games. You really don’t have no concept of time. I don’t really like looking at the jumbotron. I just kind of stop whatever pucks come my way and make sure we have good starts so we can carry it into the next 40. I think a great start really sets the tone for the game.”
The rest of the team was lifted by DiPietro performance.
“He was a rock for us,” Abbotsford forward Sheldon Dries, who scored his 28th goal of the season and has 24 points and the last 14 games, said. “He made some big stops early and obviously the rest of the game too. We feed off his energy when he’s a rock back there. It really fuels our team.”
DiPietro made a statement and he’s just focused on continue to do so whenever he gets the tap on the shoulder.He has continued to evolve and adversity has only made him stronger.
“I think it’s good to have a little bit of adversity for all our guys,” Abbotsford head coach Trent Cull stated. “They’re going to go through those hiccups and hurdles as they move on to the NHL. I think it’s good for guys like Mikey to come in here (and earn your minutes). We’ve got a difficult spot. We’ve got three goaltenders who are all very capable.
“I’m happy. I think Mikey’s game has been good. It’s been good for the last two months. I feel like it’s getting more and more refined and I’m happy to see him get that win tonight. He deserves it for sure. He made some big saves early for our team. I thought he did a really good job. We didn’t have a ton of action either way in the second period but he was solid on some big opportunities against and then just a great third period. I was really happy with his performance.”
DiPietro’s statement may have come at the perfect time, especially with the team gearing up to go on a four-game road trip.
The Abbotsford Canucks (22-17-3) will begin a four-game road trip when they visit the Toronto Marlies (24-15-3) at the Coca-Cola Coliseum on Wednesday. Puck drop is scheduled for 4:00PM PST.
NEWS AND NOTES
- Canucks’ forward Karel Plasek returned to the lineup for the first time since suffering an injury on Nov. 6
- Abbotsford defenceman Jack Rathbone (upper-body) is expected to join the team for practice in Toronto. The team is scheduled to have two practice days before facing the Marlies on Wednesday.
- Abbotsford defenceman Brandon Hickey, who signed a professional tryout agreement with the team on Friday, made his debut. He had three shots on net.
- Abbotsford forward Nic Petan finished with a goal and an assist. He has six goals and seven assists in his last eight games.
- Abbotsford forward Justin Dowling scored his first goal of the season at 17:26 of the third period which marked his 100th in his AHL career.
- With the victory, the Canucks are now No. 5 in the Pacific Division with 48 points.
FIRST STAR - ABB’s Sheldon Dries (one goal and two assists)
SECOND STAR - ABB’s Michael DiPietro (34 saves)
THIRD STAR - ABB’s Nic Petan (one goal and an assist)