It's been eight years since John and Mona MacKinnon could watch their sons play hockey in person on the same day.
The Summerside parents get the opportunity today when Carson visits with the Rimouski Oceanic for a 3 p.m. game with the Charlottetown Islanders while Ryan and his UPEI Panthers teammates host the St. F.X. X-Men at 7 p.m. Both games are at the Eastlink Centre as part of the Hockey Day in P.E.I. festivities.
"There's a lot of excitement and a lot of pride taken in our boys to both be playing at a fairly elite level for their age right in front of us in our own province," John said Friday, on his way to Halifax to watch Carson play the Mooseheads.
Ryan, a defenceman, left Summerside after his first year of bantam to attend Notre Dame in Wilcox, Sask., when Carson was eight years old.
It was difficult at first, but the family, including older sister Emily, who is finishing her teaching degree at St. Thomas University in Fredericton, N.B., were there to support one another.
"Being away is one thing, but being away so far brings it to another level," John admitted.
Ryan went on to play three seasons in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with the Oceanic before ending his major junior career as the Islanders captain last season.
Carson, a left-winger, followed a similar hockey path. He spent the past two seasons at Notre Dame and is in his rookie season with the Oceanic.
CLICK HERE FOR A STORY ON CARSON'S FIRST SEASON IN RIMOUSKI.
John said a large family gathering is expected today at the Eastlink Centre as it has been three or four years since some have saw Carson play.
It's "not everyday we both get to play on the same ice," Ryan said. "It's definitely been a day marked on our calendar for a while now."
John said the boys, while spending a lot of time apart in recent years, are close.
"Carson's biggest fan is Ryan," John said. "Those boys talk every day. That's a big advantage Carson has as a 16 year old in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. . . When there's difficult times, he has someone to talk to that has done it."
Both boys are rookies in their respective leagues, but are playing key roles at a young age.
Coaches have noted both Ryan and Carson are very mature for their age.
John said he credited the Andrews Hockey Growth Program and Notre Dame for helping both boys grow, not only as hockey players, but as young men.
"Allan Andrews took both of those boys under his wing at a very young age," John said. "Allan still calls today and asks how the boys are doing."