The Battle of Alberta has a long history of dragging young players across the proverbial battle lines. Jarome Iginla, Dion Phaneuf and Jay Bouwmeester are just a few of the Edmonton-area hockey players that were thrust into the Calgary Flames organization.
In the third round of the 2014 NHL Draft, blueliner Brandon Hickey became another part of that tradition.
I chatted with Hickey at the recent Calgary Flames prospect development camp at Winsport.
They were joking on [Sportsnet 960] radio that as soon as that pick came down, the old Oilers jersey went deep into the closet…
Yeah, it did. I put it in the back of the closet, for sure. [Chuckles]
Being from the area, was it appealing to you to get drafted into one of the most blood-thirsty rivalries in the sport?
Yeah, it is. The rivalry’s awesome. I grew up in the Edmonton-Calgary rivalry and to be on the other side of it in Calgary is a great experience. It’s going to be a really good time, I think.
You had a really good career in the AJHL. Was it a choice between the NCAA and the Dub, and how did you make that decision?
It was a huge question growing up. Everyone has to make that decision eventually. Growing up I was really close with Riley Simpson and his father Craig [who played at Michigan State], and all their stories of him, and [Riley’s] older brother Dillon [who played for the University of North Dakota], and that really brought me over – Dillon and Craig – were the main keys of why I chose to go NCAA.
What is just Boston University specifically that made overtures of liking what you do and wanting to get you in there?
I had quite a few schools interested in me, it was just a matter of me being interested in them and interested in their program, and being comfortable on their campus and stuff like that. That was a big thing for me, just being comfortable with everything and enjoying my time when I went there for me fly-down.
Have you chatted with any of the Hockey East guys here in camp? We were joking in the stands that the Flames have to meet a Hockey East quota with their prospects. You have the three guys from Providence College (Jankowski, Gillies & Gilmour), you have the pair of guys from Boston College (Gaudreau and Arnold) who have won a bunch of Beanpots… Is that part of the appeal? Being able to play in a major market city with so much hockey history and passion?
Exactly. That’s really appealing to me. Going down there into the atmosphere in the schools and the hockey rivalries within the schools is just unbelievable, so I think that was really appealing to me to go to one of the world’s great cities in Boston and being able to spend time down there, that was a really appealing factor to me.
Do you have any dates on your calendar circled yet? Do you know when you’re playing PC yet this year?
No, no, not yet. I’m looking at the dates when I play my buddies who play in Wisconsin [January 9 & 10 in Madison, WI]- Cameron Hughes, I played with him this year – that’s what I’ve got circled on my calendar so far.
Editor’s Note: Boston University plays Providence College on October 31 and November 1 as part of a home-and-home series.