Merkley brothers face each other for the first time
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.”
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.