Since the Colorado Avalanche’s development camp is being held exclusively off the ice this summer, the team took some time on Wednesday afternoon to let the local media interview a handful of their newest prospects. While grabbing audio for Mile High Sports Radio, I spent a few minutes chatting with WHL workhorse Calvin Pickard, and then collegiate standouts Kent Patterson and Kieran Millan together.
For Pickard, I focused our short interview around his impressive durability. As you’ll hear, I consider him the epitome of a major-junior workhorse since he faces a higher volume of shots and starts than almost every other CHL goaltender. His ability to always play with a high and steady level of energy is quite an impressive trait for a prospect to have, especially in a physical league like the WHL.
Coming off the heels of a new three-year entry-level contract, Pickard will attend his second Avalanche training camp in September and then get ready for his fourth season with the Seattle Thunderbirds. To get an idea of how durable Calvin has been, just look at his stats. He played over 4,000 minutes in 68 regular season games, made 2,443 saves and finished with a very solid .916 save percentage.
I also asked Calvin about mental toughness and the influence for one of his main goalie coaches, Paul Fricker. Fricker worked with Calvin over the past three seasons in Seattle, but was recently hired by the Vancouver Giants (WHL).
For Millan and Patterson, I focused our interview on revealing the importance of education with two high-level NCAA goaltenders. Please note that Patterson answers questions first, so that you can distinguish between the two puck stoppers.
Kent is preparing for his senior year at the University of Minnesota after stepping in very admirably as a junior for the injured Alex Kangas. He went 14-9-6 with a .919 save percentage and 2.54 goals-against average last season and his 30 games played was double the amount he played during the first two years of his collegiate career combined (seven and eight, respectively).
Kent will attend his fourth Avalanche training camp in September and then return to Minnesota for his senior year of college.
Sharing the same 1989 birth year with Patterson, but drafted two years later by the Avalanche in 2009, Millan is also preparing for his senior year. In his three seasons with the Boston Terriers, he has played 35, 32 and 36 games respectively. Last season as a junior, he posted a 16-10-8 record with a .919 save percentage (identical to Patterson’s) and 2.68 goals-against average.
Kieran will attend his third Avalanche training camp with the Avalanche in September and then return to Boston for his senior season.
Walking away with the chance to talk with these two collegiate goalies, I was impressed with their high level of maturity and their understanding of how important it is to be a patient person. Patterson had to wait two years and an unfortunate injury to Kangas before getting a chance to prove his worth. Millan actually played two full years in the AJHL with the Spruce Grove Saints before making the decision to attend Boston University.
And as Millan says, he knew it was a longer road to take to get to the professional level, it was more beneficial for his life outside of hockey.
The very promising Sami Aittokallio, who is proud to bear the title of the first Finnish goaltender drafted by the Avalanche franchise, was also in attendance at this summer’s development camp, but was not made available today. You can also head on over to The Avalanche Guild to hear comments from defensemen Duncan Siemens and Stefan Elliott.