Facing pressure at the highest level is never easy. It takes professional athletes years to navigate and control the outputs that come with it. Pressure for most is fear… something they can’t completely control. For Michael DiPietro, fear and pressure are viewed as simply minor hills in the big picture of life.
During his OHL draft year (2014-2015), Michael has been able to separate himself from the pack very convincingly. This season with Sun County, he posted 16-14-3 record with a 2.12 GAA & .916 save percentage. Even taking it a step further during the Canada Winter Games, Michael was lights out winning gold with his Ontario teammates.
After a slow start to his season however, Michael went through a process of learning how to deal with the hype in which surrounded him as being one of the best goalies eligible in this year’s draft. “Start of the season I was putting too much pressure on myself every game… later I learned how to slow things down mentally and that really helped me moving forward” -DiPietro.
Hearing a 15 year old say that is one thing, understanding where that mental toughness and maturity comes from is something completely different. When Michael was only 5 years old, his mother had passed away. “ Nothing will ever be that hard again” said Michael. The game in his mind, is what it truly is… a game. This gives him the ability to slow things down mentally and visually, a lot of that maturity comes from his life experience.
Last summer at camp, I had the pleasure of working with Michael during Pro Goaltending’s annual Development Program. However some things stuck out about the 15 year old more than others. I would like to say that it was his superior ability to tracks pucks, which at the time I noted he was probably the best tracker I have ever seen by someone his age… ever. It was not. Nor was it the fact that every morning by 7:30 am for video review, Michael would have yet once again beat everyone else to the office so that he could review first. The biggest thing, which sticks out regarding Michael, is his maturity. This is demonstrated on and off the ice. Especially, in his relationship with his father Vic. They are a team, a partnership. Michael said to me this week discussing his fathers impact on his hockey “ He was one parent doing two jobs, I will always be forever grateful… Me and him always” Again, maturity beyond his years is a major reason for his success.
Having watched many goalies train with the company during the past 12 years, NHL, AHL, CHL, something always sticks out about the guys who quote on quote “ Make it” … They simply understand something that your average 15 year old doesn’t. They are men playing with boys due to the fact that they are so far ahead mentally and emotionally. Their maturity is light years beyond the competition.
The draft year is a tough thing for a 15 year-old kid to go through… it either creates extreme confidence in one self, or a large amount of self-doubt. But the real question to those who are young draft eligible readers is simple. Everyone’s story and rate of development is different, no one is the same. However there is something to be learned about a young goalie like Michael who currently leads the pack. Maturity matters … if you were not drafted this weekend, honestly ask yourself one question. Was I physically and mentally mature enough to have heard my name called? If not… there is much work to be done!
I wish Michael & all draft eligible goalies the very best this weekend, enjoy it!