They say there is a special bond between young hockey players and their fathers.
So when a player is performing on the biggest stage available to their level, what’s it like for ‘Dad sitting in the stands’?
That was a question put to Peter McMullen during the Royal Bank Cup as his son Devon is a rare four-year Junior player, and Captain of the Yorkton Terriers.
“It’s more him. How he’s worked,” said Peter McMullen during warm-ups for the Terriers third game of the round robin, an eventual 3-1 win over Carleton Place. “He deserves to be here, the effort he put in over the years.”
But to get to this point there are countless miles for Dads to drive and dozens upon dozens of hockey sticks to buy, and skate sharpening to do.
McMullen said that is never something he reflects on much.
“I’m just happy he got this far,” he said.
But he has been there with Devon chasing his dreams for years now, as the Terrier defenceman was on skates at age four, he seemed destined to be a player.
“Devon wouldn’t go on the ice if he didn’t have a hockey stick,” said his father.
And while grinning when asked how much influence he might have had on his son’s play, Peter did add with pride, “I coached him for a few years too.”
But it was soon obvious Devon would outgrow hockey in Moosomin, and by age 15 he was in Yorkton for AAA Midget hockey, then onto the Terriers.
At that point Peter said a Dad’s role evolves to “being that supportive father.”
Peter said that includes talking to Devon. “I talk to him after every game. I give him advice, but he’s his own player.”
Being supportive also meant driving north from Moosomin for most Terrier games, adding they were lucky being only 90-minutes away. Still it was a lot of winter miles, but that is part of hockey. Through the Terriers’ regular season and playoff run, players like Devon sat on a bus as it covered 11,411 miles.
Peter said as a player moves up in hockey the miles seem to increase and in his son’s case he knew there were skills developing.
“I always knew he was good,” he said, again flashing a grin of pride.
So what was it that pushed Devon to be such a solid player over four Terrier seasons?
“His determination to win,” said his Dad. “He doesn’t like to lose.”
In the end what brings the greatest pride to Dad as he watches his son?
“There’s lots of things, but the big one is just the way he handles himself and the work ethic,” he said. “He gives it all he’s got, and that’s good enough for me.”