Goaltending prospect Calvin Pickard got a taste of the NHL last season. Now, he wants more.
Pickard was called up twice during the Avalanche's 2012-13 campaign, but each time it was in a reserve role to backup either Semyon Varlamov or Jean-Sebastien Giguere.
|Calvin Pickard |
Despite not seeing any action on the ice, the 21-year-old goalie said he learned a lot from the experience.
"I got to sit on the bench for a few games and see the level of play and how everyone prepares," Pickard said. "The type of hockey that's played at this level, it's world class obviously, and that's where I want to be and that's what I'm striving for.”
Selected in the second round (49th overall) in the 2010 draft, Pickard had a solid four-year career with the Seattle Thunderbirds of the Western Hockey League. He finished as the league's all-time leader in minutes played (14,025) and saves (7,727) before entering the professional ranks in March 2012 and playing his first professional season last year.
“First pro season is a lot different than junior," Pickard said. "You're living on your own, you really have to take care of your body—that's the main thing. I learned that last year, going in early every morning; you need to stretch and maintain your body because the seasons are very long."
Pickard put up respectable numbers in his first year as a pro with the Lake Erie Monsters, sporting a 2.47 goals-against average and a 20-19-5 record while working in tandem with Avs prospect Sami Aittokallio.
|Calvin Pickard on the Avs bench prior to a game at Edmonton on Feb. 16, 2013 (Getty Images). |
But while Pickard's role was a backup in his NHL call-ups, Aittokallio saw game action in his call-ups as he made his NHL debut on April 11 against the Los Angeles Kings. However, there was no ill will between the two goalies as Pickard was watching the game and rooting on his friend.
"He played great," he said of Aittokallio, who had to leave in the third period of his debut because of dehydration and cramping. "It was too bad he got hurt at the end of the game and had to come out, but he played great and is a great goalie as well.”
This season, Pickard and Aittokallio will likely be working in tandem again in Lake Erie and competing against one another to make the NHL ranks
"Me and Sami got along really well, and we push each other to make each other better," Pickard said. "Friendly competition brings out the best in both of us."
Pickard said one of his goals for the coming season is to get called-up by the Avalanche again and make his NHL debut.
And he also knows what it takes to get there: to try and be as consistent as possible every game.
“I think the consistency," he said of what he took out of his two call-ups last season. "Everybody's preparation and play is important, bringing the same effort each night. I think that's what makes people good pros.”