© Guardian photo By Jason Malloy
The McGuigan family is off to New York to watch the Islanders play the Boston Bruins on Thursday. From left are Abbey, Kim, Mataya, Kim’s brother Kevin Green, Kayden and Kenzie.
McGuigans going to tonight's New York Islanders' game
A young Kings County family had been looking forward to Wednesday for weeks.
The McGuigans boarded a flight to New York where they will watch the Islanders play the Boston Bruins in an NHL game tonight.
“Abbey drew a big calendar with all the dates on it and they’ve been (marking) off every day now since we got these tickets,” Kim McGuigan said Wednesday at the Charlottetown Airport.
“It’s exciting. It’s unbelievable.”
Kim’s husband, Brendan, and her father-in-law, Brent McGuigan, were killed in a St. Mary’s Road home on Aug. 20.
Kim and Brendan have four young children: Abbey, 9; Kayden, 7; Mataya, 3 and seven-week-old Kenzie.
On Dec. 11, the UPEI Panthers men’s hockey team presented the family with flights to New York and tickets to the game.
The connection between the Panthers and the family goes back to a game UPEI played in Montague in November. Proceeds from the game went to the family and Kayden, a hockey player himself, took part in the pre-game warmup.
“To see him before the game in our dressing room made us all realize why we were there and the importance of the game,” UPEI left-winger Chris Desousa said. “To put a smile on that kid’s face was priceless really.”
The connection remained after the game was over.
The young men found out Kayden had missed the semifinal of the Early Bird tournament to be at the Panthers’ game. When they discovered he played the next morning in the final, the players decided to attend the game to support Kayden.
“We all had a lot of fun,” Desousa said. “It was nice to see a bunch of young kids playing hockey and seeing all the smiles on their face and how much fun they were having (brought) back some memories.”
Kayden’s team from Kings County won the novice AA championship game
The Panthers came up with the idea of trying to raise the funds to send the family to an NHL game and took it to coach Forbes MacPherson.
“Really quick it escalated into reality,” MacPherson recalled. “Our players really grabbed a hold of it and made it happen.”
The players knew the risk, but were willing to cover the costs out of their own pocket to ensure the trip took place.
“It didn’t matter to us. We knew that was a risk and we just . . . wanted to do this for the family,” Desousa explained. “We do stuff within communities but this was by far the coolest thing I’ve been apart of to see the family’s faces after we presented it to them.”
On Dec. 11, the players showed up at the family’s home to make the presentation.
“It was an emotional experience,” said Matt Brenton, a fifth-year Panthers’ right-winger. “It sends chills right up your back knowing you’re doing a good thing.”
The family, still grieving the loss of their beloved father and grandfather, was in shock of the team’s generousity.
“It was unbelievable,” Kim recalled.
“The fact they’re willing to do all of this . . . (they are) an amazing group of guys,” added Kim’s brother Kevin Green.
The Panthers stopped at the airport with jerseys for the family and pyjamas for Kenzie Wednesday morning before heading to Moncton for their game.
Kevin has attended some of the Panthers games with Kayden. He recalled one time walking into the rink and seeing the large posters in front of the glass and Kayden telling his sister each player’s name and calling them his friend.
“Kayden lost his dad, but he gained a lot of good friends,” Kevin said. “It looks to me they’re going to be there for him.”