2023 u18wwc pickering

Pickerings make U18 worlds a family affair

Nine months after Owen Pickering wore the Maple Leaf at the IIHF U18 World Championship, his younger sister Avery is doing the same at the U18 women’s worlds

Katie Brickman
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January 10, 2023
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Owen and Avery Pickering have a normal brother-sister relationship with annoyances and disagreements, but they are each other’s biggest competitor and supporter.

“He is still the annoying brother, but I love him, and we have a close relationship in many ways,” Avery says. “We have grown to be competitive with each other and push each other. He is two years older than me and has been my role model on and off the ice.”

Owen is an 18-year-old defenceman and captain of the Swift Current Broncos of the Western Hockey League, and was selected 21st overall by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2022 NHL Draft.

Avery is a 16-year-old currently patrolling the blue line with Canada’s National Women’s Under-18 Team at the 2023 IIHF U18 Women’s World Championship in Sweden.

“We have a great relationship. She is a huge person in my life and to see what she is accomplishing makes me super proud,” Owen says.

The two are just 27 months apart in age and hockey became their strongest bond. Many of their family memories include a stick and puck.

“Hockey is how we spend time together. Most of the time that we spent together growing up was playing games – whether that was mini sticks in the basement or being out on the ODR in the backyard,” Avery says. “We’ve never taken a family vacation – we’ve gone on so many different trips for hockey tournaments.”

For as long as Owen can remember, he wanted to play hockey. It was a sport he gravitated to early on and the love for the game grew to become an important part of his life.

“There are pictures of me when I was little putting on my dad’s helmet and playing mini sticks,” he says. “There are videos of me hiding under the table, thinking that no one could see me, drinking maple syrup because I wanted to be an NHL player and they drank Gatorade. The maple syrup was my Gatorade.”

The St. Adolphe, Man., duo put in the hard work to achieve their hockey goals and both will now have the privilege of representing Team Canada at a U18 world championship.

“The first time putting on the Maple Leaf is surreal. You dream about it as a kid, but nothing prepares you for that feeling of walking into the dressing room, seeing the logo and seeing your jersey number with Pickering on the back. It was such a surreal moment,” Owen says.

He got to experience that last year in Germany – recording two assists in four games as Canada fell in overtime in the quarterfinals – and now Avery will get to wear a jersey with Pickering on the back for the first time on the world stage.

“I am still in disbelief. Every day I think about getting to this point and I’ve been working towards this for so long,” she says. “To get the opportunity to come here and be in Sweden to play a world championship for Team Canada is so crazy. There has been so much that has led up to it, it’s just so unbelievable to me.”

For Owen, seeing his sister reach this level is not surprising.

“I am super proud of her. She works so hard and is so committed. There is nothing that is going to stop her. When I see her work ethic, it makes me proud,” he says. “I hope she can take a step back and cherish this moment. I know it won’t be the last time she puts on the Maple Leaf.”

Having gone through a world’s championship, Owen was able to send some brotherly advice to Avery ahead of her debut.

“He shared to play as myself and trust myself – know that what I’ve done has gotten me to this point and to believe that I’ve done it to this point and continue to trust myself and enjoy the moment,” says Avery, who made her national team debut against Finland last summer and helped Canada to a three-game sweep of the United States.

Despite being eight hours away from each other during the hockey season, the two try and stay in touch as much as possible and lean on each other for hockey and life in general.

“We send little texts with congratulations for the accomplishments we’ve gotten, and we send each other songs that we hear. I always enjoy whenever we take the time to talk. It is a reminder for both of us of where we’ve come from,” Avery says. “He is going to continue to be there for me and to talk to about my game. As we both move on in our careers, it is so cool to have that opportunity.”

Owen adds: “There were a lot of times [growing up] I couldn’t stand her and when we get home, we argue about the littlest things, but we are each other’s biggest supporters. To step back and watch what she has accomplished and will continue to accomplish is pretty cool.”

For more information:

Esther Madziya
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 284-6484 

[email protected] 

Spencer Sharkey
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 777-4567

[email protected]

Jeremy Knight
Manager, Corporate Communications
Hockey Canada

(647) 251-9738

[email protected]

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