By Carter Brooks
Photos by Dylan Asmundson

Coming from a family chock-full of athletes, the RINK’s U15 blueliner continues to raise his game in his first full season playing in the Canadian Sport School Hockey League.

“Up until Atom, I played St. Adolphe Hawks minor hockey,” Pickering told Game On. “Then it was Eastman AA in Peewee and then I moved on to the AAA Selects. I went to The Brick Invitational at 10 years old and up until last year I’ve been playing Team Manitoba in the spring.”

Whether it’s spring hockey, road hockey or even pond hockey, Pickering has kept himself immersed in the game from a young age. Rightly so, as both of his siblings have moved on from their minor hockey careers to successful junior, collegiate and professional leagues.

“I just remember always playing 1 v 1 v 1 with my siblings, it was pretty fun,” Pickering laughed. “It’s nice. It was pretty cool having two older siblings that have helped teach me the game and show me the way. They’re both my role models. I just want to be just like them both on and off the ice. They are basically showing me what it’s like at the next level.”

Pressure? What pressure. “I wouldn’t say it’s pressure to make it to their level, but it definitely gives me some excitement to see what I can do if I’m like them,” he said. “I really don’t feel any pressure. They have talked to me about that though before, just to make sure that I don’t have anything really holding me back.”


Owen, five years Graeme’s senior, is currently serving as the captain of the Western Hockey League’s Swift Current Broncos. He was drafted 21st overall by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round of the 2022 NHL Draft. He too found his footwork at the RINK.

Avery – who has three full years on the youngest of the three Pickering siblings – concluded her time at Balmoral Hall last season and is currently in her first year of action with the NCAA Division I Colgate University Raiders. Much like that of her brothers, Avery learned many tricks of the trade at the RINK.

“It’s so good there,” Graeme said of the RINK’s facilities. “They have all the development stuff, you can not only workout but workout right; it is a well- rounded place. And with the academy, it’s just a little bit of everything – the coaches and the players. I knew a lot of them going in, so that helped. Everyone there is really nice.”

Currently standing 5-foot-8 and tipping the scales at 140 pounds, Pickering’s offence from the point has really caught the eye of his RINK U-15 head coach Brad Purdie. “It would be interesting to know what goes on in that Pickering household to turn out such good defencemen,” Purdie laughed. “With Graeme being a right-handed shot, you know, those guys are hard to find, offensive, right-shooting defencemen. He's an offensive guy and he certainly his confidence with the puck. He sees the ice really well, so I think that this year is going to be a bit of an eye-opener for him, getting out of that Manitoba bubble just to see how good he is in relation to other defenders.”

Although never having coached Owen, Purdie has come to know the elder of the two Pickering brothers through his time playing for the RINK and his continued work in the gym and classroom. “I actually just missed out on Owen,” Purdie said. “But I do still see him around the building here, especially for his workouts in the summers. Owen was great. He came and talked to our group last year about the draft, the WHL, expectations, all of that. He’s the perfect example of a guy that didn't even make the Top-40 for Hockey Manitoba's, POE, was drafted in the ninth round of the WHL, but goes on to be an NHL first round pick. Just a great story for the guys who think it’s the end of the world when they don’t get drafted or selected.”

Could there be a better example for Graeme to look up to? Purdie doesn’t think so, unless it’s his sister.

“Sure, you might say he has some pressure on his shoulders because both siblings have done really well. Or the other way of looking at it is that he has two great examples of people that he can ask questions to literally every day. I think for him, he's able to get the inside scoop, seeing it firsthand of what his brother and sister did to get to where they are. So, if Graeme wants to follow in their footsteps, he has every opportunity through his role models to do so.”