UTICA – Mike DiPietro brings a balanced and mature attitude to his professional hockey career.
The approach helped the 21-year-old goaltender prospect, who was part of the Vancouver Canucks cab team and worked with coach Ian Clark instead of playing games for the past several months.
That changed last week when DiPietro returned to Utica, making Friday and Sunday starts with the Comets before the American Hockey League season ends on Sunday, May 16.
While not playing a game since March 2020 with the Comets wasn’t ideal, DiPietro said, he wasn’t worried. Some thought that DiPietro’s development might take a hit without playing games.
“I think I’ve improved a lot. It’s funny when you say people are worried, ”said DiPietro after the team’s 7-1 win over Rochester on Friday. “For me, I was not worried. I’m confident in my game. Being able to work with (Clark) on a daily basis up there (helped). There are decisions that are beyond my control. I can control what I put on each day and my state of mind, just to know what I bring to the rink and be able to keep an open mind, work on my game and really have fun playing a sport that I do. ‘love.
“Everything else will be understandable. I chuckle when people say they are worried, there is no need to worry. It’s a game we all love and everyone has a different path. For me, I worked with a really good goalie coach (Clark) – the best in the world. Now I come here to work with Sandman (Curtis Sanford) and continue to develop my game. So I’m really happy to be here and to implement the skills that we have been working on in a game atmosphere and really test these things.
Career milestone:Former Comets captain O’Reilly takes milestone in AHL
The Comet Trainer Cull:A condensed schedule is a ‘big challenge’
Carl Annese from the audit authority:“ Talking is not expensive ” around a possible change of affiliation of comets
Utica – who trained on Tuesday morning after a precautionary postponement of Monday’s game in Rochester due to an issue with another team – has seven games to play under a condensed schedule. The Comets’ next four scheduled games are against rival Syracuse Crunch, with games Wednesday and Friday in Utica before a meeting on Saturday in Syracuse. The teams are scheduled to play at Utica on Wednesday. DiPietro is expected to get a majority of starts.
“For me it’s good to be part of a team and just to be in good shape with the guys, to fight and to know that you can make a difference,” said DiPietro, who totaled 21 wins and a score of 2.79 goals against. average and 0.908 percent savings over the shortened 2019-20 season. “I feel like I’m here all year round, and just been here for a few days. For us, it’s just a matter of making the right habits and developing in the right direction.
DiPietro noted that the long time not playing games was “probably the hardest thing I’ve had to do mentally in my career.” He said he leaned on the organization’s mental skills coach, Ashwin Patel, chatting with him three or four times a week.
“Where some guys might get nervous or hesitant, (DiPietro) takes every opportunity,” Comets chief executive Ryan Johnson said on Tuesday. “He’s not a guy you can really piss off. You can throw anything and everything at him and he just kisses her with ‘what a great opportunity.’ You’ll never see him find a reason to find an excuse. ”
DiPietro mainly focuses on games with comets.
“You don’t want to look too far ahead or behind. You just want to stay in the present, and that has definitely helped me through it all, ”he said. “I’m happy to be back here and to be able to play a hockey game, have fun with my teammates in a city that I love.
Forward Vincent Arseneau has served one game of a four-game suspension imposed by the AHL following the boarding with Rochester’s Ryan Jones with 1:44 left in Wednesday’s game. Arseneau, known for his physical style, had received a double minor penalty for brutality earlier in the match.
The timing of the game as well as Arseneau’s past – he had already had a pair of previous short suspensions – were factored into the suspension, Johnson said.
“I’m sure if he could get it back, he would want it,” Johnson said.
Ben Birnell is a sports reporter for the Observer-Dispatch. For unlimited access to his stories, please subscribe at the top of the uticaod.com home page or activate your digital account today. Email Ben Birnell at [email protected]