As the Stanley Cup final begins on Monday night, the No. 25 in yellow and black will look familiar to a specific group of street hockey players from the early 2000s north of Colorado Springs.
Boston defender Brandon Carlo was born at the Penrose Community Hospital and grew up nearby. He has options, if the Bruins defeat the Blues and Stanley Cup falls into his power for a day, as is traditionally the case with each member of the winning team. Carlo owns a house in Denver, where he still has many connections with the Colorado Thunderbirds.
But his grandfather, Ed Ristau, believes that Lord Stanley would go south, and has plans to do so if he does.
"I want to have a beer out of it," he said. Not Sam Adams. Coors Light only.
The former basketball referee joked that he could not spell hockey before his grandson shot through the ranks, becoming a pillar of the NHL when he was a teenager.
"Now is his life," said his daughter, Angie Carlo.
Although the Bruins have made the playoffs in each of their three full seasons in the league, due to a terrible luck, this is the first postseason of the NHL for Carlo, 22 years old.
First was the concussion, in a stroke along the boards delivered by none other than Alex Ovechkin. He arrived in the first period of the end of the regular season, having appeared in all games as a rookie. The Bruins were eliminated in the first round, so he never had the opportunity to return.
Then the occurrence of a phenomenon occurred with only five games remaining in the regular season 2017-18. Carlo went to kick the puck, but his skate got stuck. The fall broke her leg and Angie said she had a plate and seven screws inserted.
The recovery was difficult, for Brandon and those who had to look from afar. But his first postseason has been worth the wait.
The Maple Leafs led the Bruins to seven games in the first round, but reinforced by the game of goalkeeper Tuukka Rask and a power play with 35%, Boston cleared the way between the wild cards Columbus and Carolina, entering the final of the Stanley Cup in a streak of seven consecutive victories.
Carlo is the only regular from Boston who has not scored in the postseason, but the Bruins have been ready to praise the reliable defender who stays at home and the penalty. Established in a second pairing set with Torey Krug, Carlo averaged the third highest amount of ice time on the team in the playoffs at 22:16. It is the plus-6 with 21 blocked shots.
"He got his speed on my part," joked Ristau.
That box of 6 feet 5 feet and 212 pounds does not hurt, what he got from his father, Lenny. He would be face to face with the tallest player of all the other teams in the Atlantic Division.
But the Bruins captain, his compatriot and guide Zdeno Chara is 4 inches above him.
"Chara has been such an incredible mentor to Brandon," Angie said, pointing to veterans David Backes and Patrice Bergeron as well.
Ristau was assigned to the Air Force Academy in 1979. He soon retired and spent almost three decades towing gliders.
Brandon is the youngest of his six grandchildren. They reached the links in the Academy as much as they could in the off-season.
"Gramps" has not missed a game since Carlo came to the NHL at 19, saw him from home or joined him on the road. He and Carol, Brandon's grandmother, have traveled to Washington, Nashville, Las Vegas and Dallas, and, of course, to Boston, where they have met with most of the Bruins.
The Ristaus, dressed in jersey, is settling for Games 1 and 2 with a remote control and maybe a pizza. Angie is in Boston with a contingent of approximately 25.
They may be a little skewed, but the mother and grandfather of number 25 like the possibilities of Boston. Both point to the chemistry of the team.
"I can not see them fighting to the end," Angie said. "Everyone has the other's back".
Rolling through the neighborhood, Brandon caught the attention of the young high school coach Hal Jordan, who encouraged his parents to enroll him in a skating program. Jordan is among Brandon's cheering team in Boston.
He played his youth hockey at the springs and for the Thunderbirds for five years. Urging her to go to college, Angie said Brandon was recruited heavily by Colorado College and Denver. But he did not want to split his focus between school and hockey.
Brandon knows himself. He knows he wants to put 115% of what he does, "Angie said." I was convinced of that. "
He decided to join the Tri-City Americans of the Western Hockey League, among other reasons, for the rigors of a longer calendar.
"Lenny and I wanted (the university) to happen so we could go see," Ristau said. "But, frankly, he made the right decision and looks at it now."
Carlo attended Pine Creek for two years, but graduated elsewhere. Represented the US UU Twice on the world stage at the IIHF World Junior Championship. He showed some offensive style there in 2016, scoring two goals and four points, as the USA. UU They won the bronze, but they consolidated as a defensive prospect of closure.
The Thunderbirds encouraged Colorado Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic to recruit Carlo in 2015, but he placed twice before the Avs' first second-round pick (A.J. Greer) at No. 37 overall against Boston.
With that, Carlo was going to go all over the country. There was a brief stint of seven games in the American Hockey League, then he reached the inaugural list of the Bruins in 2016.
"It works the way it's supposed to," Angie said. "You have a lot of distractions if you play for your home team as a young player, at the beginning.
"It's about time, on the road, you never know.
This final will not be as dramatic for your family as it could have been. In the final of the Western Conference of six games, the Blues defeated the San Jose Sharks, including Carlos' former billet player, former Denver student Dylan Gambrell.
"It would have been a lot of stress, but it would have been fun," Angie said of her son who faces Gambrell, his former tenant.
The complexities of climbing, difficult decisions, bits of good and bad luck, is an eye-opening experience for the families of most professional athletes. But Carlos and Ristaus trusted and supported Brandon, who has navigated his young career with skill.
And now, the Stanley Cup final at 22.
"He is also a tremendous person," said Ristau. "He's a great citizen, he just makes things right."