Windsor Spitfires star goalie Michael DiPietro’s draft stock and future may be a referendum on how good a “small” netminder can be.
One of college hockey’s best traditions is underway, as the Beanpot semifinals took place at Boston’s TD Garden. Harvard took out Northeastern and Boston U. bested Boston College, setting up a Crimson-Terriers final for Beantown bragging rights. Meanwhile, the Five Nations tourney kicks off in Sweden this week and NHL scouts will descend on Sundsvall for the shindig. With an eye on those events and more, here’s our weekly wrap on the world of prospects.
Michael DiPietro, G – Windsor Spitfires (OHL): His height is a reason to doubt DiPietro, but damn if the kid doesn’t refute it pretty quickly. The star Spitfires goalie first came on the scene last year, putting up solid numbers as an OHL rookie. His six-foot frame didn’t seem to hurt him then and it’s certainly not hurting him now, as he leads the league in goals-against average (2.11), save percentage (.927) and shutouts (six). His key? Not thinking about it.
“Just having fun and remembering why I play the game,” DiPietro said. “Not overcomplicating things, just letting my play speak for itself and not worrying what people say. Last year I went in with an open mind and it really helped me.”
The athletic netminder does think about strategic things on the ice, however. The head trajectory technique, for example, that goalie coach Brian Spearing introduced to the 2017 draft prospect, has been important.
“Basically, your eyes are always on the puck, constantly,” DiPietro said. “Sometimes goalies get stuck looking at the blade and the blade angle. But usually when the puck is on the blade you have to look at where it is on the blade as well. If it rolls up, it’s most likely going to go higher, if it’s on the toe most likely it’s going to have a harder trajectory higher up and if it’s on the heel, it’ll be a bit lower. It’s little things that head trajectory helps with.”
A big fan of the similarly-sized Jonathan Quick, DiPietro’s draft stock and future may be a referendum on how good a “small” netminder can be, but the youngster only uses that debate as fuel for the fire within.
“It’s motivation for me, but nothing has ever come easy in my life,” he said. “I’ve always been posed with challenges. Hockey will take me where it takes me. I’m looking forward to just enjoying every moment and having fun with the guys I meet along the way. Hopefully I make it to the final stage, the NHL, and if that happens it’s a dream come true. I’m not the biggest goalie and people may look over me because of that, but my love for hockey will never die.”
For what it’s worth, scouts are very impressed with his work so far, so that love is being reciprocated.
In the Pipeline
Clayton Keller, C (Arizona): The turning point in Monday’s Beanpot semifinal came when Keller took a sweet pass from Charlie McAvoy and potted a devastating shorthanded goal on Boston College, giving his Boston U. Terriers a two-goal lead that stuck until the final buzzer. Keller now has a 15-game point streak going and leads the conference with four shorthanded goals in 20 games.
Matteo Gennaro, C (Winnipeg): Gennaro recently had an eight-game point streak snapped with the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen, but rebounded with a three-point outing on Friday. The talented and persistent pivot has really come on strong this season and has 33 goals in 49 games.
Filip Chlapik, C (Ottawa): The Czech national’s campaign with Charlottetown has been massive, with 71 points through 40 games. Blessed with high hockey IQ, desire and a solid frame, Chlapik has four multi-point games in a row right now for the Islanders as they battle for top spot in the QMJHL.
Jake Ryczek, D (Chicago): A smaller-sized offensive defenseman, Ryczek is making a habit of winning defenseman of the week awards in the USHL. The Waterloo Black Hawks standout has five points in his past two games, using his smarts and passing abilities to be effective. He’s a Providence College commit.
Danny O’Regan, C (San Jose): In his first season of pro, O’Regan has been huge for the AHL’s Barracuda. Talented and elusive, O’Regan leads San Jose in scoring with 38 points in 36 games, which also puts him top-10 in the entire league. He has also been great on the power play.
Riley Tufte, LW (Dallas): Good news, Stars fans – Tufte has found his groove. The 6-foot-5 freshman has seven points in his past six games for the University of Minnesota-Duluth, which also happens to be the top team in the NCAA right now. Tufte was all about skating and raw upside when Dallas nabbed him in the first round, but we’re starting to see the results already.
2017 Draft Stars
Elias Pettersson, C – Timra (Swe.): With 33 points in 33 games, Pettersson is not only the top teen scorer in Sweden’s Allsvenskan, but he’s top-15 period. The talented and brilliant center will be a crucial cog for Sweden at the Five Nations.
Martin Necas, RW – Kometa Brno (Cze.): Another player to watch at the Five Nations, Necas impressed with his speed and skill at the world juniors, but should have more success at the under-18 level. Playing against men back home in the Czech Extraliga, he ranks second among teens with 13 points in 35 games.
Jack Studnicka, C – Oshawa Generals (OHL): His stats are decent, but Studnicka’s true value comes through work ethic and a 200-foot game. He’s a heart-and-soul character player that creates a lot of his offense through sheer will. Scouts love the kid because of it and Oshawa remains atop the OHL’s East, despite selling off older stars at the trade deadline.
Eero Teravainen, D – Lincoln Stars (USHL): A talented and slick-skating defenseman, Teravainen missed the USHL Top Prospects Game due to injury but will get a crack at the spotlight at the Five Nations with Finland. Teuvo’s younger brother has seven points in 26 games for Lincoln and is committed to the University of Denver.
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