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Owen Pickering Drafted in First Round by Penguins

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Owen Pickering Crop
St. Adolphe's own Owen Pickering has been drafted in the first round by the Pittsburgh Penguins. c/o Owen Pickering

Last Thursday, St. Adolphe’s Owen Pickering was a first round draft pick (twenty-first overall) by the Pittsburgh Penguins at the 2022 NHL Entry Draft in Montreal.

It was a dream come true for the 6’4”, 181-pound defenceman who is expected to become a force on a National Hockey League blueline for many years to come.

“I can’t really describe it,” says Pickering. “It was the best feeling in the world having Kris Letang announce it. It’s super special as he was someone that I’ve looked up to.”

Pickering has come a long way from the time he was three years old and started learning to skate in St. Adolphe. Sports were a significant part of his childhood. Besides hockey, he played lots of baseball in the summer at the AAA level and even represented Team Manitoba at Nationals. He also played volleyball, basketball, and curling.

Pickering’s mom Dana is a public health nurse, and dad Tom is an engineer at Manitoba Hydro. Tom built Owen a backyard rink every year so he could hone his craft as a youngster.

Tom and Dana were always supportive of their son, spending plenty of time and money travelling wherever young Owen needed to go throughout his early hockey-playing days, while also ensuring that he could play at a prep school before heading to the junior hockey ranks.

“My parents and family have given me everything and have sacrificed so much for me to achieve my dreams,” Pickering says. “So to have them here with me at the draft was very special.”

Pickering came up through the Eastman Selects AAA system before spending two years at the Rink Hockey Academy in Winnipeg. He has now played a season and a half of WHL hockey with the Swift Current Broncos.

This past season, Pickering scored 33 points in 62 games for the Broncos. He also suited up for Team Canada at the IIHF World U18 Championships in Landshut and Kaufbeuren, Germany.

Pickering was in talks with several NHL teams in the months leading up to the draft, as Thursday evening could have unfolded many different ways for him.

However, he is very pleased to have landed a spot with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

“I talked to Pittsburgh quite a bit,” he says. “It’s hard to know which teams are doing their due diligence and which are showing interest, so I didn’t know who was going to take me, but I’m just thrilled.”

A fun fact is that Pickering is also a cousin to Dominion City’s Denton Mateychuk, who was chosen eight picks before him at twelfth overall by the Columbus Blue Jackets.

This week, Pickering will head to the Pittsburgh Penguins development camp, and later join the team’s official training camp in September. He is likely to head back to junior for the upcoming 2022–23 season, where he is a stalwart defender for the WHL’s Swift Current Broncos.

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