Gold medalist Pickering honoured before Winnipeg Ice game
It’s not a surprise to see autograph lineups at junior hockey games stretch over a hundred kids long.
But it was a complete surprise to Avery Pickering she was the one drawing all that attention. The St Adolphe hockey player was honoured before the start of the Winnipeg Ice game Feb. 22, with the team recognizing her and Team Canada’s U18 gold medal victory earlier this year.
“That’s not something I’ve ever had the opportunity to experience,” Pickering said after getting through the lineup.
“It was really cool to get the opportunity to see that I can inspire kids now.”
While Team Canada struggled to even make the gold medal game at the tournament in Sweden, the championship game was a different story. After squeaking out one-goal wins against the U.S.A. in the round robin and Finland in the semi-finals, Team Canada jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the first period of the gold medal game, before Sweden had registered their second shot on goal.
“We had some absolutely insane games getting to that gold medal game, so we had no idea what to expect,”
“It was kind of a balance of pure excitement and needing to finish (the game) out.”
When not suiting up for Team Canada, Pickering plays defense for the Balmoral Hall Blazers, a prep school team which plays in the Junior Women’s Hockey League against other top schools from across North America
“We want to win the playoffs this year,” she said, noting their team is young, but ready to compete.
Pickering said she hopes her success with team Canada this year is just the beginning of her international career.
“The end dream has always been to play in the Olympics, to play for Team Canada at that highest stage, and to hopefully take home a gold medal there,” she said.
Pickering has committed to Colgate University, and is set to begin to play there next season.
“(Colgate has) a great balance of academics and the hockey side of things,” she said when asked why she chose the Hamilton, New York based University.
“Their coaches are absolutely amazing… I’m really excited to be a part of a program which sees things the way they do.”
The Ice picked the perfect opponent to honour Avery, as they hosted the Swift Current Broncos Feb. 22, which are captained by her brother, Owen.
The siblings even shared a hug on the ice after the ceremonial puck drop.
“That was pretty neat,” Avery said.
“I’ve come here to watch his games before, we come as a family whenever (Swift Current) comes to Winnipeg. Just being here to watch his game in the first place is pretty cool for me, but to be honoured and get to drop the puck is another layer on top of it.”
Owen was selected in the first round of the NHL entry draft last summer by the Pittsburgh Penguins, then signed an entry level contract with the club.
Avery is currently in Prince Edward Island, having exchanged her Team Canada jersey for a Manitoba buffalo at the Canada Winter Games.