SEE RAW VIDEO OF INTERVIEW WITH LEIGHTON FAMILY: http://www.ottawasun.com/2011/11/06/teen-killed-by-shop-blast-honoured-at-game
Eric Leighton didn’t live to see his No. 3 jersey retired, but he probably would’ve loved the purple touches — that was, after all, his favourite colour.
The 18-year-old, tragically killed in a shop class explosion at Mother Teresa High School in Barrhaven in May, was honoured before a hockey game as his two former teams got set to face off in Almonte on Sunday afternoon.
“It’s been very hard, but at the same time, it’s very special to us,” said his father, Patrick Leighton.
The family was given a framed jersey, as more than 100 people looked on from the bleachers.
Leighton suited up for the Almonte Thunder after a trade by the Ottawa West Golden Knights in 2010.
“At the end of last season, they were looking at him for captain this year,” said his dad.
The front of the Thunder’s white home jerseys have small purple ribbons and the No. 3 near the neckline.
And Leighton’s mom, Sheri, and sister, Kaitlyn, each sported a single violet feathered hair extension in tribute.
“Our friends just happened to know somebody who has those streaks that you put in your hair, and she offered to do it (Sunday) for the both of us, so we had that done, just in honour of my son and also myself ‘cause I just, I adore purple as well,” said Sheri Leighton, who was wearing her son’s jersey.
Kaitlyn Leighton, 16, said Sunday was a “very special day” for the family.
“I’m feeling good about the hockey game and just seeing all the support from his friends,” she said, wearing a purple shirt underneath her Thunder jacket.
“I know that me and my family are definitely staying strong and Eric would’ve loved this.”
Thunder head coach Bill White calls Leighton “a big part of our team, not just on the ice, but off the ice. He was a real personable kid … so it’s kind of fitting that we’re playing Ottawa West in his memory.”
After the dedication, Leighton’s family stuck around to watch the game.
But who were they rooting for?
“I don’t want to be on one side, but definitely Almonte, because that was my brother’s team, so go Almonte, go,” said Kaitlyn.
Another framed No. 3 jersey hangs on the wall outside the Thunder locker room.