UPEI hockey team rallies behind family struck by tragedy
Published Monday, February 2, 2015 9:00AM EST
The University of P.E.I. men's hockey team has rallied around a local family who lost their father and grandfather to a double homicide last summer, sending them on a hockey-related trip of a lifetime.
Herbert McGuigan, 68, and Brendon McGuigan, 39, were shot and killed in their home in the rural town of Montague, P.E.I. last August. The younger McGuigan left behind a wife and four young children.
The double murder shocked the small town, and it wasn't long before community members stepped up to offer support.
Among them was the University of P.E.I.'s men's hockey team, the Panthers, who worked to send the family to a recent NHL game between the New York Islanders and the Boston Bruins.
Panthers left-winger Chris DeSousa told CTV's Canada AM that, after hearing about the tragedy, the team knew they wanted to help.
"We all heard about it, (it's) small town P.E.I. so word gets around fast," he said. "We ended up doing a benefit game for the family, where all the proceeds went to the family.
"After that, it kind of hit us when we met the family, and we just decided we wanted to do a little bit more."
DeSousa said the idea to send the McGuigans to an NHL game came to him after watching a documentary about New York Islanders defenceman Travis Hamonic. A Manitoba native, Hamonic, lost his father to a heart attack when he was just 10.
Hamonic often meets with other young children who have also lost a parent, so DeSousa thought it would be cool to arrange a meeting with the McGuigans. Plus, it didn't hurt that Brendon McGuigan, the children's father, was a huge Islanders fan.
"I sent my coach a text, but I didn't think anything would come of it," DeSousa said. "He ended up bringing it up to the whole team, and we decided we'd go ahead with it."
DeSousa said that the team decided to contribute the money up front for the trip, and then approached local businesses to ask for their support.
"It really wasn't difficult to come up with this money, because the whole community was excited to be a part of it," he said.
Last December, the McGuigan family was presented with plane tickets and game tickets to see the Islanders play the Bruins. And last Thursday, the family attended the game in Uniondale, N.Y.
The family even got to meet Hamonic during their trip, taking photos with the defenceman in the Islanders dressing room.
Forming bonds with the family
DeSousa said, since the awful tragedy last summer, the team has formed a special bond with the McGuigans.
In particular, the team often sees Kayden McGuigan, 7, at their games, with the young boy becoming something of a team mascot.
"Whenever he comes to our games, he'll come down to our (dressing) room and meet the boys," DeSousa said. "It's nice seeing him around the rink with a smile on his face."
The Panthers even returned the favour, once attending one of Kayden's hockey games. Kayden had missed his own team's semi-final game to attend the benefit game the Panthers organized for his family.
"Because of that we decided we'd go watch him and his team play in the finals the next day," DeSousa said. "It was pretty fun… it brings back some memories of playing minor hockey when you're a young kid. And it was fun to watch the excitement on those kids' faces."