By Shanna McCarriston
Don’t let the Boston accents fool you; the members of Charlestown’s Tkachuk family are rooting for the Calgary Flames.
Decked out in Flames gear and Calgary red, Calgary Left Wing Matthew Tkachuk drew a crowd to the TD Garden last Saturday night, Nov. 26, even if most of it was family members like his grandmother, aunts and cousins sitting in the stands and cheering for their favorite left wing.
Tkachuk’s family is deeply rooted in the Town, and his grandmother, Geraldine Tkuchuk, grew up a Boston Bruins fan like most, but now she says there is never a doubt in her mind that she is a fan of the Flames.
Matthew Tkachuk was drafted 6th overall in the 2016 National Hockey League (NHL) draft by the Flames and his family said they could not be more proud. His grandmother said his whole family knew he would be taken early in the draft and they knew he was headed to the NHL.
Now, however, not only is he in the NHL, but also he is one of its budding young stars.
At only 18 years old, Matthew is one of the youngest on the ice but his family said his determination and focus is to be thankful for his success at such a young age. His family noted that since he was about seven years old, he had the drive and passion to make it in the NHL, and they knew from that point forward he would have a career in hockey.
“He knew from the time he was a little kid that this is what he was going to do,” his grandmother said, adding that he played other sports, but hockey was always his goal.
Matthew did not grow up in Boston, but his family history is deeply rooted in Charlestown. His family used to call the area home and his father Keith Tkuchuk was born in Melrose, not far from the TD Garden. Matthew’s family is not new to Boston or to the hockey scene; with Matthew’s father Keith often called the greatest United States born hockey player of all time. Matthew’s grandmother notes the similarities between her son and her grandson, “He looks like his dad, he skates like his dad, and he plays just like his dad.”
When asked how he feels about being compared to his father by NHL analysts, Matthew shrugged it off saying he does not think about that and just wants to go out and play the best game he can play. He said he thanks his coaching staff and surrounding players for his success in the league so far saying, “I’ve been put in a good spot here in Calgary.”
He has played 20 games and has six goals so far this season.
It is not always easy watching someone you love play hockey and his grandmother knows this first hand.
“I’m nervous tonight, especially when they all start fighting. He can hold his own, but I still don’t like seeing it,” she said about watching Matthew during what was a rough-and-tumble game with the Bruins on Saturday.
When asked about some of the fights on the ice, Matthew did not seem phased and simply said that Boston always comes to play and he just matches that intensity.
His grandmother talks about how emotional it has been to watch her 18-year-old grandson succeed on the ice, after all those years of watching her son Keith dominate the league.
“I think it’s more emotional with my grandson, to see history repeat itself,” she said. Matthew’s first game against Boston was even more special to the family because they were able to come out and see him play close to their home.
Fifteen members of the family came out to support number 19 and after the game it was a mini-reunion when Matthew came into the stands to greet them.
His grandmother said “I think the whole family is his biggest fan” after being asked which one of them claims they are number one.
After the game Matthew talked about what it was like to play in the city so many of his family members call home.
“I only get to come here once a year, so I try to get out as many people as I can this game, so it’s special,” he said.
He may only come to Boston once a year, but that will not stop his family from seeing him play live in other places. They plan to make trips to New York and other northeastern states when the Flames take on those teams.
Matthew’s father, Keith, played for Boston University and, according to Geraldine, Matthew’s younger brother will play for Boston University next year.
Even if the Matthew only gets to play at the TD Garden once a year, there is no doubt he will spend time in Boston seeing his family and cheering on his brother. Boston and hockey are in Matthew’s blood and Friday at the TD garden, it all came together like so many of his well-timed goals.