VANCOUER, B.C. — It wasn’t the NHL debut he imagined, but Mike DiPietro says starting in net for the Vancouver Canucks on Monday night was still a dream come true.
The San Jose Sharks (34-16-7) took no pity on the 19-year-old native of Amherstburg, Ont., testing him early and often en route to a 7-2 victory.
“Definitely not the ideal first game,” DiPietro said. “But it’s something I’ve dreamt about my entire life and to have the opportunity this young to do it, it’s something that’s positive for me, that I’ll take as a learning experience.”
As the game went on, the young netminder felt more comfortable and said he’ll focus on the things he did right as he continues working on his game.
“When you focus on the negatives too much, you’re going to feel like an ant in the net,” he said.
The Canucks (25-25-7) called DiPietro up from the Ontario Hockey League’s Ottawa 67’s on an emergency basis last week after backup goalie Thatcher Demko was sidelined with a knee sprain.
The team doesn’t currently have an American Hockey League goalie available to play in the NHL.
Jacob Markstrom, Vancouver’s starting netminder, was slated to start on Monday but was scratched as a precaution due to tightness in his lower body.
“I felt like if we played him tonight, it would risk a longer injury that I didn’t want him to turn into,” Canucks coach Travis Green said after the game.
DiPietro stopped 17-of-24 shots and despite a rough start, he “hung in there and battled,” Green said.
“I don’t feel bad at all for putting him in the net. He’s here, he’s the backup. I didn’t have another choice. That’s who we had to play tonight,” the coach said.
“I don’t think he’s upset that he played. I think he’s pretty excited that he played.”
Lining up against a team stacked with all-stars was a special experience, DiPietro said.
“It’s pretty cool, taking a look up and seeing Joe Thornton and Pavelski right across the ice and shooting on me,” he said. “Obviously when they score on you it’s not too good. But I had to pinch myself and just stay in the moment.”
Evander Kane scored twice for the Sharks, and Timo Meier, Melker Karlsson, Tomas Hertl, Kevin Lebanc and Joe Pavelski also put up goals.
Lebanc’s tally came from a two-on-one where Joe Thornton drew DiPietro across the crease before dishing off to the right-winger.
The helper was the 1,050th of Thornton’s career. He passed Gordie Howe for ninth place on the league’s all-time assists list.
“That’s an unbelievable accomplishment, unbelievable career, and that’s something that should be really celebrated and I think our whole group and I are excited we were here to witness that,” said Sharks coach Peter DeBoer. “Gordie Howe’s career speaks for itself but when you get a guy like Joe Thornton that actually passes him on the assist list that is an amazing accomplishment.”
Logan Couture said he’s speechless over sharing a dressing room with someone who has passed a Howe milestone.
“It’s pretty crazy,” said the San …read more