World juniors is family affair for Team Canada
Look carefully in one of the sections behind the goals at the Halifax Metro Centre and you'll find some very proud Canadian fans.
They're more than just your face-painted, "Thunder Stick"-banging, horn-blowing fans. Many have travelled from across Canada to see their sons, grandsons, brothers and friends play in the biggest junior hockey tournament in the world.
Harold Laich, father of Canadian forward Brooks Laich, is one of the proud parents at the competition.
Harold, a superintendent of schools in Wawota, Sask., his wife Jane and son Jordan arrived at their Halifax hotel at 1:30 a.m. local time last Friday morning, too late to see Brooks score Canada's first goal of the tournament in Thursday's 8-2 rout of Sweden.
However, one member of the Laich family was on hand for that goal. Brooks' sister, Jodi, an industrial engineering student in Regina, arrived in Halifax in time to see the game -- and Brooks' first-period goal.
"It's very special," said Brooks. "It's the Christmas holiday, so you do miss your family.
"But for them to make the trip down and just be here for me, support me, it means a lot. It's going to be a long tournament and to have my family here will hopefully give me an extra jump in my step."
In Halifax, Brooks has had to adjust to more than just being away from home during the Christmas holidays. He's had to make the transition from playing centre, his position with the WHL Seattle Thunderbirds, to the wing, where he's playing with Team Canada.
The Laichs aren't the only proud family watching a son at the world junior hockey championship.
Every player on Team Canada has a relative in attendance.
Captain Scottie Upshall's father, mother and brother are here from Fort McMurray, Alta., while fan favourite Jordin Tootoo's parents, along with some friends and cousins, are visiting from Rankin Inlet, Nunavut.
It makes for a boisterous, proud section at the Metro Centre.
Laich family members knew they would come to Halifax as soon as Brooks made the team.
"We wouldn't miss it," beamed Harold. "I didn't know if he'd ever get here, but I'm not surprised that he's here, either."
According to Harold, Brooks' has dreamed about playing for his country his entire life and has laid in bed envisioning scoring a goal for Team Canada.
The dream came true last Thursday against Sweden when he banged in a Carlo Colaiacovo rebound.
"I think every kid's probably said that," joked Brooks, an Ottawa Senators draft pick. "But ever since I started playing hockey, it's been a dream to play for this team.
"So, hopefully, I can make the most of it while I'm here."