Merkley brothers face each other for the first time

Southwest Booster - - SPORTS - STEVEN MAH SOUTH­WEST BOOSTER

Jeff and Tammy Merkley likely got a few sec­ond glances sit­ting in Sec­tion B dur­ing last week’s game be­tween the Swift Cur­rent Bron­cos and the Kelowna Rock­ets.

The Cal­gary cou­ple were eas­ily vis­i­ble sur­rounded by a few open seats and wear­ing Swift Cur­rent Bron­cos and Kelowna Rock­ets jer­seys with the same last name on the back.

The Merkleys were in Swift Cur­rent to see their two sons, Jay and Nick, play against one another in a com­pet­i­tive hockey game for the very first time.

“It is great,” said Jeff dur­ing the sec­ond in­ter­mis­sion with the two teams tied 1-1.

“We are ex­cited and the boys are ex­cited. They are both happy to play each other. They haven’t seen each other for some time, so they got to see each other to­day.”

“I know both of them were re­ally ex­cited about this game,” said Jeff. The brothers have been on the ice to­gether plenty over the years but have never faced off in a com­pet­i­tive game.

Jeff and Tammy’s loy­al­ties were be­ing tested through­out the game with no one team to root for.

“We are happy when both teams score. We are hop­ing for both boys to have a good game and we want it to be a good, close game,” said Jeff.

The Rock­ets scored three late goals to over­come a 2-1 deficit for their sev­enth straight win dur­ing their first game of their six-game East Di­vi­sion road trip.

“Yeah it was pretty cool,” said Nick af­ter the game. “I played a bunch with him on the pond and stuff over the years. It was pretty cool play­ing against him. I just wanted him to do great so it was kind of hard play­ing against him. All in all it was a pretty good ex­pe­ri­ence.”

“It was a pretty in­cred­i­ble ex­pe­ri­ence,” added Jay. “You can’t re­ally put it into words un­til you are out there and you look him in the eyes and give him a lit­tle smile.”

Jay said it was a spe­cial mo­ment for his fam­ily.

“It was just a real cool ex­pe­ri­ence. I don’t get to play him much so it was good my par­ents got to come down and see. I hope the best for him and his hockey team and it is just un­for­tu­nate that we couldn’t get a win out of that hockey game.”

Nick said that the two did cross paths on the ice on a few oc­ca­sions.

“Yeah a lit­tle bit. We lined up against each other and chat­ted a lit­tle bit which was nice to do. Not too much in scrums, we did enough of that when we were younger,” he laughed.

Jeff said that rais­ing two blos­som­ing hockey stars kept their hands full in Cal­gary.

“It was very busy. They played a lot and lots of trav­el­ling all over the coun­try with them when they were younger. We en­joyed ev­ery minute of it. We miss them, they both left home at 16, so it was hard, es­pe­cially on their mother. But it has been great and I know they both love where they are and what they are do­ing.”

Jeff and Tammy were mak­ing their sec­ond trip of the sea­son to Swift Cur­rent and have each went out to Kelowna to watch Nick play.

They will also see Jay play most of his games in Cal­gary, Lethbridge, Red Deer, and Ed­mon­ton. They lis­ten to many of the boys’ games on the ra­dio as well.

“We are happy that they are both on good teams,” ex­plained Jeff.

“They are both happy so at the end of the day it is their dream, we can watch both of them play and it is great. When they play against each other it has been a great ex­pe­ri­ence.”

Photo by Steven Mah

Swift Cur­rent Bron­cos’ for­ward Jay Merkley (right) is ap­proach­ing ca­reer highs with 14 goals and 29 points in 37 games in his third WHL sea­son.

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