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Pickard: I am going to play my best

Pickard: I am going to play my bestEurolanche did an exclusive interview with the Avalanche prospect who is coming to play in the AHL this year.

Calvin Pickard, 20, is ranked in the first place as the top goaltender prospect in the entire Colorado Avalanche organization. Calvin spent his 4-year junior career in Seattle Thunderbirds from 2008 to 2012. In each of the last three seasons he played at least 62 games. Unfortunately, Thunderbirds made their road to the playoffs only one time, in the first Calvin´s season. He made five appearances there.

Pickard, a native from Winnipeg, represented Canada at one international tournament (U18). He played his first two professional games at the end of the last regular season for Lake Erie Monsters. In 2011, Pickard signed three-year entry level contract with the Avalanche organization. He and Sami Aittokallio from Finland are the biggest favorites for the two goalie positions in the Monsters this season. Kieran Millan and Kent Patterson are next two goalies invited to the training camp.

Aittokallio: I wanna be no. 1 in the AHL (full interview)

Calvin, in all of your four seasons in the juniors you lost more games than won and faced many shots. In spite of that your save percentage did not go down under 90 %. Did not you feel sometimes like Patrick Roy? He also had hard times before he entered NHL, but was playing great hockey.

Playing in Seattle was a roller coaster experience.  My first year, we had a solid team and we were a winning team but in my last three years I lost a lot more games than I won. It was a great experience for me throughout the season to have the ability to play every single game and face a ton of shots. It definitely got frustrating at times playing top teams but I would just have to bare down limit my mistakes and focus on stopping the puck and not worry about anyone else. Looking back on it Seattle was good to me; I was drafted, signed and had a wonderful four years in the Thunderbird organization. 

You won 16 of 62 games in the season 2009/10. Your save percentage was 91.4 % and you was named to the First All Star Team. Can you describe us this season? You were shining in the net, but at the other hand, the team could not win more games.

My draft year was a great experience despite the losing season.  I had a plan to limit my mistakes keep my eye off the clock battle right to the last buzzer and look up at the end of the game and see if it was good enough. Most nights it was not but the reason my save percentage stayed high, was because of battling right to the end regardless of the outcome. That year I also had the privilege to go play in the Subway Series with the WHL All Stars and the CHL Top prospects game.

What is your greatest memory on the time in Seattle Thunderbirds?

Two great memories pop into my head while I played with the Thunderbirds. I was honored for breaking the WHL Career saves record at home in front of a sold out crowd before a game against Portland during the 2011/2012 season. Danny Lorenz who previously had the save record handed me a plaque before the opening face-off. The second memory would have to be when I was 17 and I got a 57 save shutout against the Tri City Americans. It was a special night and feeling altogether throughout that game. 

You signed entry-level contract with the Colorado Avalanche in 2011. Finally, you spent one more year in the juniors. Did you expect one more year in Seattle?

As a 19 year old you either have to play for the NHL team or back in junior, so after my camp as a 19 year old I fully expected another year of junior hockey.

You played two games for Lake Erie Monsters last season. Can you compare the hockey on the AHL level with the WHL? Was it significant difference?

I found a lot of differences between the WHL and the AHL after playing in a couple games at the end of last season. The biggest one of them all is the effort, determination and consistency that professional hockey players show day in day out at the rink. Younger junior players tend to have highs and lows but professionals control that and produce the same effort and same consistent game each and every night. 

It is likely you will be no. 1 goalie for the Monsters upcoming season. Do not you have worries about it? What are your expectations?

I'm going to go to Lake Erie, play my best, work hard every day, and maintain a positive attitude.  I'm looking forward to getting things started and being able to play a lot of games. I'm excited to head to Cleveland this weekend (22nd Sep).

Unfortunately, your European fans are not able to watch junior hockey games, it is not available there. Can you describe them your goaltending style? What are your pros and cons?

I am an athletic goalie who reads the play well, has good reflexes and good hands. I worked a lot this summer on basic skating and quieting my game down.

What do you think about the current goaltending duo of the Avalanche team?

I think the duo is great. I love watching Varlamov play. He is a true natural and is one of the quickest goalies in the NHL. I also love watching Giguere play, he is different than Varlamov in a lot of ways; he is very technical and positional sound.  He has earned a lot of success in the past and I have heard nothing but great things about him as a guy. 

According to several reports you are the top Avalanche goaltending prospects with the bright future. How long it will take goalie like you to be ready for the NHL?

The decision on how long it will take me to make the NHL isn't up to me. I'm going to work hard, try and get better each and every day, be a good teammate and stay positive. Those attributes will allow me to excel and earn success with the Lake Erie Monsters.

Your older brother, Chet, will be a goalie in Sweden upcoming season. Why he decided to leave North America? Is it for sure now he has little chance to get in the NHL?

Chet decided to go to Sweden for a change of scenery and a new opportunity.  He has the chance now to be the number one goalie for Djurgarden and experience a whole new culture in Stockholm.  He has been there for over a month now and I have heard nothing but great things about the people, the area and the team. 

What are your hobbies and how do you spend your free time?

In the summer, I get into a routine where I skate in the morning, work out after, and have the rest of the day to do different things. This summer I golfed about 40 times which was the most I have ever done in any summer. I also enjoy hanging out with my friends and going to the lake.   


David Puchovsky, Slovakia, eurolanche@eurolanche.com
24/09/2012 - 16:00 Eurolanche book - banner

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