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Pickard Has Family Ties

by Aaron Lopez / Colorado Avalanche
The story of how Avalanche draftee Calvin Pickard came to be a goalie is slightly different from that of many other young, high-level netminders.

At one point or another, anyone who grew up playing the sport of hockey - whether in an organized setting or just recreationally - has forced their youngest sibling to strap on the pads when nobody else has volunteered.

It’s almost a rite of passage for a younger brother, part of the process of being accepted into playing pickup games with the older neighborhood children. But Pickard chuckles at the thought, partially because there was another member of his family already holding down the fort between the pipes.

Pickard led all WHL netminders in minutes played (3,688) and saves (2,207) in 2009-10.
When Pickard was selected by the Avalanche in the second round (49th overall) at the 2010 NHL Entry Draft in Los Angeles, he was simply following in the footsteps of his older brother, Chet, a fellow goaltender who was tabbed by the Nashville Predators in the first round (18th overall) of the 2008 Draft.

“No, I wasn’t forced into it by my brother,” said the younger Pickard with a laugh. “I just really liked the position. Chet liked goalie too, so we both just really enjoyed it. It's been nice to have him to look to throughout this process, including the NHL Draft, because he's gone through all the same experiences I'm going through.”

In fact, both of the Pickard boys came about their love for the position naturally. Just like his older brother, Calvin played as a skater for a couple of years before first donning the goalie pads. Things took off from there.

“When I was seven, our first game came around and no one wanted to go in goal,” said the younger Pickard. “I chose to go in goal that game. We won and I played great, and then I just developed a liking for it. I played off and on for a few years and made the decision to go full-time when I was nine.”

The Pickard crew is an athletic bunch. In addition to Calvin and Chet, their older sister, Kelly, was a standout basketball player in high school. All of that athletic acumen lent itself to a competitive atmosphere in the Pickard household. Still, sports were never forced upon the kids.

“Our parents put all three of us through soccer and things like that. But at an early age we learned to skate and hockey came after that when I was six years old,” said Calvin. “It’s starting to get even more competitive, just with me getting drafted and getting closer and closer to what my brother has accomplished. It’s friendly competition though. We both really hope that the other does well.”

And done well they have. Chet was named the WHL Goaltender of the Year in 2008 while playing for the Tri-City Americans and spent this past season with Nashville’s AHL affiliate, the Milwaukee Admirals. Not to be outdone, Calvin has spent the past two seasons with the Seattle Thunderbirds and was a finalist for the 2010 WHL Goaltender of the Year award after leading all league goalies in minutes played (3,688) and saves (2,207) while finishing sixth in goals-against average (.914)

Unprovoked, Calvin added another bit of information.

 “I never really got hand-me-down pads. I get that question all the time. The size difference between us let me get my own pads.”

Growing up in Moncton, New Brunswick, Pickard had posters of NHL netminders Felix Potvin, Dominik Hasek and Patrick Roy adorning his bedroom walls. But rather than trying to emulate the style of one netminder when he took to the ice, he thought it made more sense to pick and choose different parts of their games to incorporate into his own.

“I loved hockey, loved watching it. I didn’t have one favorite player or favorite goalie, I just loved watching everybody,” said Pickard.  “I just try to take something from every goalie. I take something from (Evgeni) Nabokov, from (Miikka) Kiprusoff, (Roberto) Luongo. Just try to blend my game with those different sets of styles.”

Along those lines, Pickard believes there is one part of his game that sets him apart from many other goaltenders, and that’s his stoic demeanor between the pipes.

“I’m really calm in the net and really mentally composed,” said Pickard. “I just treat every situation calmly, and I play big even though I’m just over six feet.”

Before attending rookie camp with the Avalanche this fall, Calvin still has another hockey-related task on his agenda.

Following Hockey Canada’s Program of Excellence goaltending camp in June, Pickard was selected as one of four netminders invited to attend Canada’s National Junior Team development camp from July 30-Aug. 3. At the camp, which will be held in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Pickard hopes to increase his chances of gaining a spot on the country’s entry at the 2011 IIHF World Junior Championship.
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