“It’s always easier to watch your son play as a forward than [to watch] your son as a goalie.”
Many hockey parents would probably agree with Bill Comrie.
Fewer, though, would be talking about this in the context of seeing their kids play for Canada at a world championship.
Three times Bill watched from afar as son Mike played for Canada at the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship. With the tournament taking place in Europe each of those years and Bill busy coaching his other kids, the family watched on satellite when Mike wore the maple leaf in 2002, 2003 (winning gold that year) and 2006.
“(Mike) was actually the last cut two years in a row [for the World Juniors],” says Bill. “He really wanted to play, and got to play for Canada later.”
Fast-forward nearly nine years and son Eric is helping backstop Canada’s National Junior Team at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship.
This time Bill and his wife, Roxanne, are able to cheer in person.
“Carey Price played for the Tri-City Americans before Eric did,” says Bill. “To see your son wearing a Team Canada jersey and walking through the same tunnel in the Bell Centre that Carey Price walks through is sort of surreal.”
Bill says it’s an honour for the family to be at the event, especially knowing how much being at the World Juniors means to Eric.
“He phoned me [when he made the team]. He was one excited boy. His voice was crackling he was so excited.”
Playing at the World Juniors has seen Eric go up against his friends. It’s also meant Bill has had to cheer against some of his former pupils, including American forward Chase De Leo, who he coached for five years.
“It’s a small world,” says Bill, laughing.
Eric’s family is spread across it cheering him on. Younger brother Ty is in Kennewick, Wash., playing with Tri-City. Mike and sister Cathy are in Jasper, Alta., hosting viewing parties for friends. And oldest brother Paul is watching from Dallas, Texas, newborn twins at his side.
Bill can thank his two oldest sons for little brother’s games being a little more difficult for a parent to watch.
“(Eric) was the pylon – the little pylon – and they competed against each other and all of a sudden he was a goalie,” says Bill. “He loves it. I don’t know why anybody would let pucks get shot at them, but he loves it.”