Paul Dipietro is a proud Canadian. So it comes as a big surprise that the Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario puck wizard will always be remembered for a historic game against Team Canada.
After a 192 game career in the NHL, most notably with Montreal, he moved overseas to extend his career. The pint sized pivot quickly settled in beautiful Switzerland, playing mostly with Zug, where his teammates would include former NHLers Todd Elik, Oleg Petrov, Chris Tancill and Michal Grosek.
Dipietro also took up Swiss citizenship, and began playing with the Swiss national hockey team. He had no previous national team experience in Canada, thus making him eligible to suit for another country so long as he was an official citizen. He may not have been as good as Joe Sakic, Jarome Iginla or Scott Niedermayer, but Dipietro too would participate in the Olympics.
After representing his new country at the 2005 world championships, Dipietro once again joined the national team for the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy. For one night a hockey player from the Soo was the talk of Canada, but because of his unforgettable game against Team Canada.
A Stanley Cup Champ, Too
Dipietro was not, or at least should not have, been an unknown to Canadian hockey fans. He had played in the NHL for nearly 200 games, including in the national spot light with both Montreal and Toronto. A cousin of Canadian Football League star Rocky Dipietro, Paul Dipietro was a pretty nice complimentary player on Montreal's 1993 Stanley Cup championship team. Though small the mid-season call up came up big in those playoffs, scoring 8 goals and 13 points in 17 games.
Dipietro never came close to replicating that performance over any length of time, forever labeling him as a fringe NHLer before becoming a long time European pro. But he was still capable of big games at any time. Unfortunately for Team Canada, one of those big games came in the round robin of the Turin games.
Upset of Olympic Proportions
Canada was the tournament's favorite, as always. The Swiss were supposed to be happy just to be there, though someone forgot to tell them that. They had pulled off an upset of Olympic proportions 2 days earlier, defeating the Czechs 3-2. Now they would pull of an even more amazing upset, shutting out Canada 2-0.
NHL goalie was a real hero in that game, turning aside all 49 shots Team Canada could fire at him. The forgotten-about Dipietro scored both goals for Switzerland, giving the Swiss their first ever senior victory of the mighty Canadians.
The Swiss went on to the quarter-finals before their magic ran out. The Canadians never recovered, and finished 7th place, the worst placing in their long hockey history. Finishing in 6th was the Swiss and their goal scoring hero from the Soo.