Pickard brothers hope to square off in NHL


ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — On March 20, 1971, more than 20 years before Calvin Pickard was born, Ken and Dave Dryden made history as the first brothers to play in goal against each other in an NHL game.

Calvin and his older brother Chet Pickard hope to do the same one day.

Both were fairly high NHL draft picks and, while it will likely take a few years before it can happen, the Pickards would love to follow in the Drydens’ footsteps.

"That’s the plan, I guess," Calvin Pickard said Friday. "Me and my brother are both trying to make the NHL, and if we get the chance to play against each other it will be really something else."

Calvin is at the Canadian junior hockey team development camp this week at Mile One Centre, taking the first step toward winning a spot on the team that will play in the world junior championship starting Dec. 26 in Buffalo, N.Y.

Chet was on the Canadian team that won gold at the 2009 world juniors in Ottawa.

Calvin was picked in the second round, 49th overall, at the NHL draft in June by the Colorado Avalanche. Chet went 18th overall to the Nashville Predators at the 2008 draft.

In camp, Pickard is up against Mark Visentin of the Niagara IceDogs, who was picked 27th overall by the Phoenix Coyotes in June, as well as Edmonton Oilers prospect Olivier Roy and Los Angeles Kings hopeful Jean-Francois Berube, both taken in the 2009 draft.

All are looking to be asked back to the team selection camp in December, from which the final 22-man squad will be picked.

Calvin, who plays for the Seattle Thunderbirds, and Chet, a former Tri-City American who played last season for Milwaukee of the American Hockey League, have already faced each other four times in the Western Hockey League.

"I lost all four games," Calvin said. "He had a good team.

"I never played against him in my rink, and it was a tough place to play in his rink, so I didn’t get the better of him. It was incredible. The first game I was like ‘whoa, he’s at the other end,’ but once you get the jitters out, you just have to play your own game and treat it like any other game."

First, Calvin Pickard hopes to match his brother by winning gold for Canada and could even get one up if he wins the starting goaltender’s job. Chet got into two games at the 2009 world juniors, but mostly served as back-up to Dustin Tokarski.

It was hoped in the family that Chet — who is two years older than his brother and two inches taller, at six-foot-three — and Calvin would both be first-rounders.

Calvin was rated by NHL Central Scouting as the second-best goalie behind American Jack Campbell, who went 11th overall to the Dallas Stars. Visentin even jumped ahead by going 27th overall to the Coyotes. Calvin ended up as the third goalie taken.

"The night of the first round was a disappointment, but the next day rolled around and I got picked by Colorado and it was all forgotten," he said. "Looking back on it, you don’t think about what round a guy was picked in. It’s not really a big deal."

The Pickard brothers were born in Moncton, N.B., and moved to Winnipeg when Calvin was eight. He tried playing forward as a youngster, but like his brother, he had better success in the net.

The Coyotes also selected defenceman Brandon Gormley of the Moncton Wildcats 13th overall in June and both he and Visentin are at the development camp. Another goalie taken in the fifth round by Phoenix, Louis Domingue of the Quebec Remparts, was not invited to camp.

Being taken in the first round got Visentin on a roll that he hopes to maintain at camp and into the Ontario Hockey League season.

"It was a big confidence booster," said Visentin, who at six-foot-two is the tallest of the four goalies. "I look at confidence as very important.

"I just try to feed off it and use it to motivate me to succeed more and accomplish my goals. If you’re invited to camp, it means they’re interested. Now my focus after this is on my team back in Niagara. If we’re winning there, we’ll get noticed. But there will be people working just as hard as I am to get that position on the team."

Roy had an even more disappointing draft in 2009. Ranked second among goaltenders going in, the 2008 Quebec Major Junior Hockey League rookie of the year waited until the fifth round to be taken by the Oilers.

He went 32-21-3 with a 2.62 goals-against average last season for the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles and also played three games for Springfield in the AHL.

Berube made the Montreal Juniors of the QMJHL in 2008 as an undrafted invitee and was a backup until Jake Allen was traded just after winning silver with Canada at the world juniors in Saskatoon. Berube showed enough promise with a weak team to earn the invitation to the national junior team camp.

Which two goaltenders make the world junior squad depends on how they do in the first few months of the coming season and at the selection camp in December.

When submitting content, please abide by our submission guidelines, and avoid posting profanity, personal attacks or harassment. Should you violate our submissions guidelines, we reserve the right to remove your comments and block your account. Sportsnet reserves the right to close a story’s comment section at any time.