Ann Bernard remembers going to a rink in Vancouver Island in 1992 with her late husband, David, to watch her grandson play hockey.
As the kids skated around the ice, parents couldn’t take their eyes of one standout.
“Watch this little guy,” the parents said.
“That’s our grandson,” replied Bernard with a smile.
A few months ago, Bernard made another trip to see her grandson, Matt Read, 25, play pre-season hockey with the Philadelphia Flyers in London, Ont., Detroit, Mich., and Toronto.
“When he scored, we were probably a small amount of people in this huge arena, and they probably knew we were there,” said Bernard. “We just jumped and we’re excited.”
Read, who is also the grandson of Charles and Miriam Read, is the Philadelphia Flyers’ rookie right-winger. In 51 regular-season games, he has 32 points – 16 goals and 16 assists.
Remembers family being there
The five-foot-10 and 185-pound Read remembers his grandmother and other family being there to support him.
In an interview from Philadelphia, Read said he wanted to do his best, but knew his family would be proud either way.
“But it was really special after the game walking out of the locker room and seeing my grandmother and my aunt being there with big smiles on their faces,” said Read, who was born in Ilderton, Ont.
Read signed a three-year, $2.7-million contract with the Flyers after graduating from Bemidji State University in Minnesota.
When Bernard heard the news, she was excited.
“I thought, ‘Holy crap, that’s a lot of money,’” she said. “We knew his dream was to make the National Hockey League, and you’re always hoping that he’s going to.
“But, on the other hand, you’re always thinking, ‘He’s good, but is he this good?’
“We’re really proud of him.”
Bernard remembers when Read was a toddler and his parents, Lorne and Nancy (Bernard) Read, came to visit in Summerside. He sat on the kitchen floor with a plastic mini hockey stick and stick-handled a tennis ball.
“He’s had a hockey stick in his hand since he could walk,” said Bernard. “When you would go to visit them, there always was a net either outside or in their basement, always shooting pucks, playing hockey.
“We all had shirts and stuff when we went to the games of course. My daughter (Nancy), his mother, had all kinds of shirts, so we all had some kind of Flyers’ gear on.”
When Read made the team, Bernard ordered the NHL Centre Ice package so she could watch him play most of his games.
“There’s lots of excitement when we’re watching here when he scores,” said Bernard. “My daughter (Lisa) and I will be sitting here and be like, ‘Oh my God he scored.’
“You know it’s just exciting.”
Read is excited to have his grandmother watching him play.
“I know she never really paid attention to the NHL before, or had the NHL package before,” he said. “It’s a great honour.
“I am making my grandmother proud, and I’m glad she’s spending some time watching hockey now and understanding the game.”
Feels connection to P.E.I.
Read has spent a lot of time on P.E.I., and feels a connection with Canada’s smallest province.
“I’ve never lived there, but I’ve been there a lot, both my parents are from Summerside, so I’ve got great connections with the Island,” he said. “Something I look forward to when I get in the off-season is getting a chance to go to P.E.I., and play some of the golf courses there.”