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Fort Nucks: DiPietro's wild week

...it was an intense travel week for the 20-year-old, who smiled the entire time

by Derek Jory @NoJoryous / Vancouver Canucks

You'll have to forgive Mike DiPietro if he doesn't know what day of the week it is. Or the date. Or what city he's in.

The 20-year-old goaltender knows he's up with the Vancouver Canucks for the time being, and that's really all that matters.

When Jacob Markstrom returned to Sweden for personal matters last week, DiPietro was recalled to the Canucks. He backed-up Thatcher Demko during his career-high 40-save performance in a 5-2 win, was the third goalie for Vancouver's 6-5 win over Buffalo, then was returned to the Comets after six days with the Canucks.

That's the last concrete thing DiPietro remembers. His return to Utica was shortlived as Demko suffered a concussion in practice Wednesday leaving the Canucks in need of a back-up. Insert DiPietro, whose had a whirlwind few days.

"I flew from Vancouver to New Jersey on Sunday, then took a car service to Bridgeport, then got there at around 8 pm, had dinner, then we played in Bridgeport Monday night and I backed up there. We then bused four hours back to Utica Monday night, then I practiced Tuesday, had morning skate Wednesday, played Wednesday night and we won against Toronto. Thursday morning the car came at 4 am ET, so 1 am PT, to take me back to the airport, then I flew to Chicago, then to Van, and I got to the rink at 3 pm on Thursday, checked into the hotel, showered, walked back to the rink, then backed up Marky that night. Then hopped on the plane Friday morning and flew to San Jose. And here we are."

Part of DiPietro's pre-game routine involves a Cirque du Soleil type back bend and when he performed it pre-game Thursday night, there was a moment he closed his eyes and could have fallen asleep.

Tweet from @Canucks: hey Mikey u ok? 😳 pic.twitter.com/pVVoWAL51O

It's been a grind, but a glorious grind which DiPietro wouldn't trade for the world.

"When you're growing up, you picture playing in the NHL and you're just there and it's great - and it's true, it's so much fun and better than I thought it would be," smiled DiPietro. "But then again, the logistical part of it is just crazy. So many moving parts. You're always on the move, always on the go and you definitely don't think about that part as a kid and you shouldn't! But as you get older and get into it, it's a grind. I haven't had a day away from the rink in almost a month, but I love that.

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"A day at the rink doesn't feel like work. I'm doing something I love to do, whether I'm playing, backing up or practicing, even if I take four pucks to the head in a drill, it doesn't really matter. At the end of the day, I'm playing pro hockey and getting paid to do what I love. All the hectic travel and no days off and the tougher parts, that stuff all comes out in the wash and it's the memories you make during it that are more important."

One of the memories DiPietro made and will cherish is having a front row seat to Markstrom's fourth career shutout last Thursday in a 1-0 win over the Carolina Hurricanes. Marky made 43 saves in all giving the Canucks back-to-back solid performances when DiPietro is backing up.

"He played phenomenal, it was great to see. It's funny because I got called up and then Demko played a phenomenal game against Ottawa, then Marky played a phenomenal game. I'm like hey, I'm willing to stay, just give me some pompoms and I'll sit in the stands. Both those guys are great goalies and I'm just trying to learn as much as I can from them."

As for the day, date or city, none of that matters to DiPietro right now. He's where he wants to be, learning from the best in the business. Although he may have to go shopping at some point if he's with the Canucks for a while.

"I packed enough, I think, I don't know. I never know how long I'm leaving for. I grabbed a couple suits, a couple shirts - lots of underwear, I made sure of that. And a couple pairs of pants. That's good, right?"

Absolutely. Maybe.

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