Michael DiPietro is on his way to the OHL Finals for the first time in his career.
DiPietro has been fantastic this postseason helping lead the Ottawa 67's to a 12-0-0 record and posting a 2.26 GAA and 0.913 SV%.
Despite winning the Memorial Cup in 2017 as the host team, DiPietro had been limited to the first round in both the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons despite some standout performances.
Both of those first-round defeats occurred with his previous team, the Windsor Spitfires, but a new season and a new team have afforded him the opportunity to end his junior career on a high note.
Capturing the OHL title and punching their ticket to the Memorial Cup in Halifax would bring a close to a wild season for the Canucks 2017 3rd round pick. After concluding development camp with the Canucks in early July, DiPietro represented Canada at the World Junior Summer Showcase in Kamloops in August.
Video: 10 Things to Know About Prospect Michael DiPietro
Once that event concluded, he started the OHL season with the Windsor Spitfires and suited up for Team OHL as part of the Canada/Russia Series. With the World Juniors evaluation camp on the immediate horizon, the netminder was traded to the 67's and appeared in a few games before leaving to hopefully lead Canada to a medal at the WJHC here in Vancouver.
DiPietro had a standout performance for Canada, but ultimately fell short in an overtime loss to Finland after fellow Canucks prospect Toni Utunen's shot deflected over DiPietro.
The Amherstburg, Ontario born DiPietro returned to the 67's and seemed to be getting more accustomed to the new system with Ottawa, but due to a few factors within Vancouver's organization, DiPietro was then recalled to Canucks under emergency conditions.
DiPietro appeared in his first NHL game on February 11th before heading back to the 67's to conclude the regular season and help get them to this point.
In the weeks following that game against San Jose, there was quite a bit of discussion about the impact that DiPietro's NHL debut, a 7-2 loss, would have on his confidence for the remainder of the season. Things like that can be hard to really breakdown as the only person who knows what kind of impact it had is DiPietro himself.
Video: POSTGAME | DiPietro vs. Sharks
But the Canucks were drawn to the netminder on draft day in part due to his ability to rise in big games and seemingly never get rattled. It happened during the 2017 Memorial Cup for the Spitfires. Being the host team afforded them the ability to play in the event despite not winning their league title. DiPietro dressed in four games and led all goaltending categories by the end of it. It was one of the best single goaltending performances at the Memorial Cup in recent memory.
That calmness has been apparent a few times this postseason when the 67's have needed DiPietro to step up and make that big save, the Canucks prospect has been there. In the second round, with the 67's up 3-0 in the series, they leaned on DiPietro and his 58 save performance to secure the 3-2 triple overtime win to move on.
During the conference finals against Oshawa, DiPietro struggled in the first two games, but was aided by his teammate's offensive production. In games three and four, DiPietro shut the door, allowing only one goal in each game to keep his perfect record intact.
Ottawa now waits for the winner of the Guelph and Saginaw, with the latter up games three games to one, to battle for the OHL title and hopefully continue their unbeaten streak.
It's been a year that has seen DiPietro battle through adversity and heartbreak while logging some serious travel miles across the continent. Canucks fans are hoping that DiPietro can continue his dominant play this post-season so that they can get a good look at him in the nationally televised Memorial Cup.
But no matter what happens in the OHL finals, there are a lot of positive things to be taken from DiPietro's season. He's performed well in intense games and stepped up his game and he could add some new hardware to the trophy case before the season ends.
The future appears to be bright for the young man.