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'You couldn't be prouder as a big brother'

The Evans brothers will be reunited in New York City as the Canadiens embark on a three-game road trip

by Matt Cudzinowski @CanadiensMTL / canadiens.com

BROOKLYN - Jake Evans has a real family connection to the Big Apple.

A little over a year ago, his older brother, Matthew, relocated there from Toronto to pursue a job opportunity in the financial sector.

Matthew is a corporate bond trader with Scotiabank's Global Banking and Markets division at their offices near One World Trade Center, and he resides in the West Village.

There's a dinner on tap on Monday night, of course, so the pair can spend some quality time together before Jake and the Canadiens battle the New York Islanders on Tuesday night at Barclays Center.

Matthew will be in the building, along with his roommate and two friends.

The Habs' stop in Brooklyn comes as Matthew is about to celebrate his 26th birthday on Wednesday, so a visit from his little bro is a pretty cool gift.

"It'll be a fun time to see him. I love New York," said Jake, who has one goal in nine games with Claude Julien's contingent this season. "I've visited him a couple of times. It's a fun city, and for him to see me play another game will be awesome."

It was just over three weeks ago that Matthew travelled to Montreal to watch Jake make his NHL debut against the Anaheim Ducks.

There's actually a good backstory behind the trip that the Evans clan won't soon forget.

Apparently, Matthew was so stoked about seeing Jake realize his NHL dream on February 6 that he made a critical airplane reservation error.

"After finding out about Jake, I looked over at my boss and I told him I was booking a flight to Anaheim. I got a little excited and I thought he was playing in California, so I bought a ticket to Los Angeles. On the way to the airport, I was talking to my mom and she asked me if I was coming to the Bell Centre. That's when I realized they were actually playing in Montreal," explained Matthew with a laugh. "I changed my flight in the cab, though, and everything worked out. But it was kind of funny that I packed for California weather, not a Montreal snowstorm."

For Matthew, watching Jake in action at the Bell Centre exceeded all expectations.

It was incredibly gratifying to sit alongside his parents, Wayne and Marilyn, in the stands and share the experience as a family.

"The first thing that comes to mind when I think about that game is just how surreal it was watching him warm up. It was the real deal. The second thing I remember was seeing him line up with Ilya Kovalchuk and Max Domi for his first shift. I went to high school with Max and had a bunch of classes with him, so it was a very cool sight," recalled Matthew. "As soon as he got to the NHL, you couldn't be prouder as a big brother. Looking back on all the times we played hockey in the basement, street hockey, pond hockey, and the number of times we played one-on-one, it was just crazy to see him get this far."

Tweet from @CanadiensMTL: Bienvenue �� la famille Evans qui assiste au match de ce soir pour encourager Jake. 👋Welcome to the Evans family, who are at the game tonight to cheer on Jake.#GoHabsGo pic.twitter.com/2d0BilVUDY

In retrospect, Jake wholeheartedly appreciated the effort those closest to him made to get to the game on time. 

Wayne flew in from Vancouver and Marilyn arrived from Toronto.

This was an opportunity to celebrate a momentous accomplishment years in the making.

"It was awesome. It kind of summed everything up. I called him, and he was like "I'm coming right away." That's the kind of guy Matt is. It wasn't just him who made it so special, though. It was my whole family," praised Jake. "He would sacrifice things, too. My parents would be going on a lot of road trips. They'd come visit me at Notre Dame and he'd be home alone. He sacrificed a lot. He could've asked them to stay and hang out. For me, it was about the whole family making it."

Jake, 23, will never forget Matthew's unwavering support on the long road to finally reaching hockey's highest level.

It will always mean the world to him.

"He's been along for the ride, enjoying all these new experiences with me," mentioned Jake. "We'd go to football tailgates all the time. When I played in the Spengler Cup, he came along. He was having a great time there. Everywhere I go, he's one of the first ones who wants to come and enjoy it with me."

There's plenty of mutual respect between the Evans brothers as well.

Jake couldn't be happier to see Matthew achieve his professional goals in one of the greatest cities on the planet.

He admires his incredible sense of adventure and willingness to try new things.

"He's one of those guys that lives an exciting life. I remember right when he finished school, he went on a long trip to Southeast Asia, Australia, New Zealand and Europe. He did his own thing. He's just that kind of guy. I think New York's a perfect city for him," explained Jake. "I love that about him. I don't have that at all. I couldn't have gone on a trip like that. He didn't even have a flight home. He went with a couple of his friends. He's living life to the fullest, for sure."

It sure sounds like these two turned out alright, and they credit their folks for that.

"Our parents always did a great job telling us to persevere and work hard. Nothing's ever given," concluded Matthew. "It really comes down to them instilling that kind of wisdom and teaching us those things. That's ultimately where it comes from."

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