Chet Pickard Ready to Bounce Back
- Updated: November 19, 2010
Last season, with the Milwaukee Admirals, goaltender Chet Pickard managed to raise a few eyebrows with his stellar play while backing up Mark Dekanich. However, he ended the season in a major slump, losing his last 10 decisions.
When training camp began, many hoped he had put the slump past him. In fact, Chet performed admirably enough during training camp that head coach Barry Trotz rewarded him by allowing him to dress for a preseason game.
“It was nice,” Pickard told section303.com. “Obviously it was really an honor to put on that jersey. Not many people can say even though it was an exhibition game and I didn’t play, not many people can say that they’ve experienced that. I was honored to put on the Predators jersey and to sit on the bench and watch the game. It makes you want to be there even more.”
However, Anders Lindback surprised nearly everyone by winning the back up job which meant that Pickard and Dekanich headed back to Milwaukee. While Dekanich started the season on fire, Pickard’s slump continued. After four games, he was 0-3-1 with a 3.47 GAA and a .885 save percentage.
Something wasn’t right and Chet Pickard was demoted to the ECHL’s Cincinnati Cyclones.
It took four more starts with the defending Kelly Cup Champions before the “curse” was finally broken. After 18 straight losses, Chet stopped 31 of 32 shots as the Cyclones beat the Toledo Walleye.
“It was nice to finally win a game,” Pickard said. “Obviously it’s been long coming and it’s nice to get the feeling of winning back again. It’s a step in the right direction and definitely the monkey is lifted off my back, but it’s just one game and I’ve got to keep improving every day. But that was a good step in the right direction.”
What did Chet work on to get his game back?
“I think over the last month for sure I’ve worked on some different things. I’ve worked with some different people on just keeping myself relaxed and more the mental side of the game moreso than the technical side. The biggest thing was relaxing and just controlling my game and controlling my emotions. It was a long time coming and it was just about trying not to get frustrated even though it was extremely hard because when everyone goes into a game is they expect to win and they want to win and when you haven’t won in a long time you forget the feeling and when I got that feeling of winning again it was awesome and I was really happy and it was almost – I think – 20 games ago, so it was definitely a good feeling and a great effort by the whole team to get the win.”
While he’s happy to finally win again, he knows that it was just one game.
“I just have to keep following what I’ve been on in the last two weeks here and keep getting better everyday when I go to the rink, keep working on the mental side of the game…it was only one win there and then the other day we lost in overtime again and so things are getting better and headed in the right direction. I just have to keep focused on everyday getting better when I go to the rink and get myself back where I need to be.”
And where does Chet think he needs to be?
“When I get out on the ice for a game, I just want to be able to give my team a chance to win and be sharp for 60 minutes of hockey and be that confident and mentally strong goalie that I used to be. Be that goalie that wins games, doesn’t let anybody bother him, doesn’t let anything bother him. You know it’s going to take some time and it’s going to be a process and I’m aware of that. I was picked high in 2008 and I want to show people why I was picked that high. I don’t want to disappoint Nashville, I don’t want to disappoint my family or myself, but in the meantime it’s not about playing for the Nashville Predators. Right now, it’s about getting better every day and taking it one step at a time. Like I said, it’s going to be a process and I’m heading in the right direction right now. I feel better about myself, I feel better about my game, I feel better about how I’ve been as a person over the past two weeks compared to before that and I think things are going to keep getting better. I’m working harder on and off the ice and I’m listening to people. I think it’s going to be very beneficial this experience I’ve been put through the last little while.”
How is he getting back on track?
“I have a lot of little goals I set on a daily basis. I don’t know what my long term goal is. Right now, it’s getting back to the way I play. It’s getting back to the goalie that I know I can be and that I will be. It might take some time to get to that. Every day I set goals before practice. I set goals every day when I wake up. I want to achieve those goals so that I can get to the next level so that I can get to be the goalie that I want to be, that Nashville wants me to be and that everyone wants me to be. That’s the ultimate goal. If I’m playing the best hockey I can play, if I’m playing at the top of my level, then the sky’s the limit. Whether that’s back in Milwaukee, whether that’s in Nashville, whether that’s excelling in this league, that’s stuff that’s out of my control. Right now I’m just worrying about things I can do to get myself better and using the resources that I have available to me to achieve those goals.”
Of course, not too many kids dream about becoming the hottest goaltender in the East Coast Hockey League. In the end, Chet’s goal is to become a dominant NHL goalie.
“That’s obviously what my goal is: to one day be in the National Hockey League and be great. I don’t want to the National Hockey League and not be ready or be an immature kid when it comes to my game – I want to be there and be confident and know that when I’m there, I’m there for good.”
PHOTO CREDIT: Tony Bailey