By Tony Saxon, Guelph Mercury
For many years, the back seat of the family van was a second home to the hockey-playing McGinn boys.
After school, it was straight off the school bus and into the van. Dinner came out of a Tupperware container and homework was done on laps somewhere along Highway 401 as mom and dad taxied the trio of brothers — Jamie, Tye and Brock — from Fergus to Toronto and Guelph for games and practices.
“I’d drive down to Mohawk or somewhere with the boys and meet up with my husband, who worked in Mississauga. He’d take Jamie and Tye down to their hockey in Toronto, I’d bring Brock back to Guelph for his hockey,” remembers mom Cori.
“We had many, many discussions. We told them, ‘If it’s not what you want, we can change it.’ “
The mileage, time and effort paid off as two of the three have made the NHL and the third is expected to.
Jamie, 26, plays for the Colorado Avalanche on a million-dollar contract; Tye, 23, was up and down with the Philadelphia Flyers and their American Hockey League affiliate last year; and Brock, 19, stars with the Guelph Storm and is a highly regarded Carolina Hurricanes prospect.
Finding the trio at the family home on the outskirts of Fergus on a summer afternoon is no stroke of luck.
The boys all still call Fergus home, with Jamie having just finished building a new home on Belwood Lake. Tye and Brock still live at the only home they have ever known, a spacious house on the town’s eastern edge.
All three say leaving Fergus is not on the agenda. Family and the small-town atmosphere are such a huge part of who they are.
“All I keep telling everyone is that you never forget where you came from and it’s family first for us,” says Jamie during a group chat around the kitchen. “We’re a really close family and this is where I eventually want to raise a family.”
That’s not a surprise to dad Bob.
“Surprise is not the word. Excited is the word,” says dad. “Fergus is part of who they are. Fergus as a community has been very good to them.”
Summer is a chance to reconnect. It’s also a chance to train together. Being so close in age, the three have trained together for years in the summer one way or another. Now that they are all men, that training level is on an equal level.
“We have a lot of laughs along the way, but we work hard and push each other,” Jamie says. “It’s beneficial for everyone.”
Tye says while the family keeps in touch during the hockey season, they rarely see each other and summer is a chance for the family to reconnect.
“That’s not to say there aren’t some rough moments, but at the end of the day we’re brothers and we love each other and it’s a lot of fun,” adds Tye.
Mom might not appreciate the increase in laundry and the food bill too much, but she’s glad to have them home.
Cori Denny and Bob McGinn met at the local rink, run for years by Cori’s dad, Cecil Denny.
Bob was a lacrosse star and came from Oakville to spend the summer playing for the Fergus Thistles. Cori was a figure skater.
After getting married they lived a year in Milton before settling back in Fergus.
“Mom got her way,” Jamie says.
Bob McGinn flooded the backyard every winter and it was a busy spot. The three boys spent countless hours on the ice, regularly joined by friends.
“They got the skates on us early,” says Jamie. “From Day 1, that’s all we knew: hockey and lacrosse.”
When the hockey got serious, the oldest two boys played mostly on rep teams in Toronto.
Brock played a year in Halton Hills, then in the Guelph minor system.
“If you had a good game, dad would want to talk about it on the ride home. If you didn’t have a good game, he would let you know about it,” Tye says, of his dad’s approach to their early hockey years.
“The biggest thing for him was effort. If the effort wasn’t there, he’d let you know. It was a lot of money, a lot of travel and a lot of dedication for my parents. If you weren’t putting out the full effort, he’d set you straight pretty good.”
Brock spent most of his minor hockey days being chauffeured by mom.
“And I definitely heard it from her,” he says with a laugh.
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