Reds split as OFSAA opens
Nathan DiPietro seized the moment for the Denis Morris Reds Tuesday.
The 15-year-old forward scored three goals and added an assist as the Reds dominated the St. Mary Catholic Secondary School Crusaders 11-0 at the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Association AA boys hockey championships at the Seymour-Hanna Sports Complex.
It was a crucial win for the Reds who dropped their opener 3-2 to King City earlier in the day and needed a win to stay in the hunt for the quarter-final playoff round.
DiPietro, who also suited up for the Niagara North Stars U16 squad this season, is thrilled to be competing for an Ontario title in his own backyard.
“It’s great,” he said. “The first game we had our school come with a buy out. The atmosphere was amazing. The boys were buzzing. We had excellent goaltending. Great game.
“We want to win the whole thing because it’s in St. Catharines and we’re the host team.”
DiPietro said committing to the Reds while also playing at the AAA level came down to tradition.
“Over the years, a lot of good players have played for this school like Conor Timmins and Riley Sheahan, and I know a bunch of the guys and I thought it would be fun to play,” he said.
DiPietro had a solid season for the North Stars with 13 goals and 26 points in 36 games, but gets to play a more prominent offensive role with the Reds.
“It’s great. I have way more confidence when I play school hockey. I bring my game to my home team and I do much better,” he said. “(With the North Stars) I was a hitter, a shooter, a power forward.”
DM coach Billy McLaren loves DiPietro’s heart.
“He’s a team guy for Niagara North and he’s a team guy for DM,” McLaren said. “He didn’t miss all year long. Whenever he could make it he was there.
“You talk about grit, that kid has all the grit in the world and he has the quickest release I’ve seen in high school.”
McLaren said during the game, DiPietro missed an open net and came back to the bench and said he was going to work on his backhand shot.
“He went down and scored on a backhand. He’s 100 per cent all the time, every shift,” McLaren said.
Zander DeDivitiis and Anthony Rocca added two goals each while Antonio DeDivitiis, Matteo DiGiovanni, Ethan Fisher and Cody Rudderham added singles for DM.
Owen McNeish-Fortune earned the shutout.
The Reds, who are ranked 15th, take on No. 9 ranked Immaculata from Ottawa Wednesday at 10 a.m. and need a victory in order to advance.
“We came in knowing we need two wins,” McLaren said. “We don’t know if we’ll be in but we need two for a chance.”
McLaren said the first day of competition went well. Denis Morris was slated to host the tournament last season but it was cancelled due to COVID.
“It’s an experience,” he said. “It’s a year in the making. All of the volunteers have been unbelievable with the amount of work we have put in.”
The school also hosted in 2010, when they won gold at the AAA level, as well as in 2015 and 2018.
KING CITY 3 DENIS MORRIS 2
Rocca and Jack Gualtieri scored for the Reds.
Nathan Evangelista, Brandon Petrova and Max Palmero replied for King City.
“They were pretty bent. They didn’t feel they deserved that fate. We dominated them in the third period,” McLaren said. “The hardest part is getting to OFSAA as a team. We got the grant because we’re hosting but then you need bounces. We didn’t get a bounce this morning but then the boys bounced back.”
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