Since he was a small kid, Merek Pipes goal was to play hockey at a high level and one day go to college to play the game he loves. The now Swan Valley Stampeder has done a great job in achieving those goals and now he's trying to guide the Stampeders to the promise land.
Pipes became a Stamp earlier this season as the team looked to find a solid number one goaltender, and that's exactly what Merek has been since becoming a Stampeder. Before his time with Swan Valley, Pipes played the first 36 games of his junior career in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League. 35 of the contests came with the LaRonge Ice Wolves while he suited up in one game for Nipawin.
"It was a pretty seamless transition coming to Swan Valley," said Pipes. "It's a great team here and we have great support from our billets and fans. It's been great."
"Everyone that you talk to they're asking questions about playoffs and that sort of thing," he added. "The town has really got behind the team and it's great to see."
Joining the Stampeders marked Merek's first action in the MJHL, but it also marked his first action in a playoff series at the Jr. A level. He did play in the playoffs back in the 2016-17 season with the Richmond Sockeyes who play in the Pacific Junior Hockey League. That's the same league that his teammate, Alexander Uryga also played in.
There's just something about the playoffs that brings the best out of the BC native. In that season with the Sockeyes, he played seven games and had a solid 2.26 G.A.A and a .917 save percentage. This year with the Stamps' as the team plays in the second round, he has a 2.81 G.A.A and a .913 save percentage. Of active goalies still in the playoffs, that 2.81 G.A.A is second best.
"Playing in the playoffs is just great. I love hockey and I love playing it," said Pipes. "Hopefully we can keep it going and make the finals as well."
Cool, calm, and collected are three perfect words, to sum up how Merek is feeling right now. Pressure is the last thing he's feeling.
"Obviously I would like to win and I'm going to do whatever it takes to win," he added. "I think putting unnecessary pressure on yourself only hinders your performance. I'm just trying to play my game."
Merek and the rest of the Stamps' resume their semifinal series against the Steinbach Pistons tomorrow night. Swan Valley and Steinbach split the first two games and here's something that's no surprise, Pipes was solid in the first two games. He made 52 saves on 57 shots.
"I'm not satisfied. I think the only time you can be satisfied and content is when you win it all," added Pipes. "With that said, we can be proud of our accomplishments so far but the job isn't even close to being done."
Regardless of how this season ends up, Merek's hockey journey will continue next year. He's set to join the NCAA Division 1 Union College men's hockey team.
"Playing college hockey has been a dream of mine for a very long time," said Pipes. "That's a long way out of my view right now though. I'm only focused on the playoffs here with Swan Valley, but I definitely am pretty pumped up about it."
Tomorrow's game goes at 7:15 from the Automobile City.