Hockey family with deep WHL roots brought together by Regina hub
REGINA -- Multiple members of a family with long-standing connections to junior hockey in Saskatchewan have been brought together by the Western Hockey League hub in Regina.
Erin Ginnell is an NHL scout with the Vegas Golden Knights and his two sons, Brad and Riley, play in the WHL.
Riley plays for the Brandon Wheat Kings and Brad plays for the Moose Jaw Warriors.
Erin said he never gets involved in making hockey reports on his kids, but can’t help noticing them whenever they’re on the ice.
“To be honest with you, it’s a little distracting because you’re kind of watching your kids but you’re trying to do your job as well,” Erin admitted.
Erin’s brother Dan is also a scout with St. Louis and has made some appearances in Regina’s WHL hub, but Erin can’t be too sure.
The two are tight-lipped about their travels because of the secrecy around their jobs.
Erin said he often doesn’t even tell his mom where he’s travelling because then his brother could find out which players he’s scouting.
Erin’s oldest son, 20-year-old Brad, said even he’s not sure where his father is at times.
“He keeps his job secret to my grandma, to me and my brother, to my mom, to everybody because he has to and that’s why he’s good at it,” Brad said.
Erin’s sons have benefitted from having a father who knows the ins and outs of what NHL teams look for. Erin has scouted for four NHL clubs, including Florida, Colorado and Columbus.
“Obviously having a hockey mind in the house, it helped me growing up as a kid to learn the game a lot quicker than maybe somebody else,” Brad, who plays left wing, said.
Riley, who plays the same position, said they always get an honest opinion about their hockey skills.
“You’re never going to get a wrong answer on how he tells you how to play and personally, I never want him to sugar coat anything,” Riley said.
The two brothers also share a similar, healthy rivalry, to that of their father and uncle when they play against each other. Brandon beat Moose Jaw 8-3 on Tuesday, giving Riley the upper hand.
“It’s always a little more bragging rights when were talking after the game or texting each other, kind of rub it in a little bit,” Riley joked.
This October, the duo got a rare opportunity to wear the same jersey.
“My brother and I got a chance to play a couple of games in Flin Flon this year while our season was still shut down and they were going,” Brad said.
The occasion was special because it provided an opportunity to share a connection to their late grandfather Paddy Ginnell. Paddy, who passed away in 2003, played for the Flin Flon Bombers and helped them win a Memorial Cup in 1957. He then went into coaching and was named WHL Coach of the Year four times, a record that still stands today.
Paddy was an instrumental figure in the formative years of the WHL, helping create the he league. Brad was only three years old when his grandfather passed away.
“To be able to put on that jersey was pretty cool as he won a Memorial Cup there, he played there. And he has his number retired there, too,” Brad said.
The brothers only played in a pre-season game with the SJHL’s Flin Flon Bombers due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It was a very special experience, just to be able to be in the same room that he coached in and so much history in that building,” Riley said.
However, the two are getting plenty of action in Regina. And with no fans allowed due to COVID-19 regulations, it’s sentimental to play in front of their father.
“Although we can’t see him after the games, we’re very fortunate to have somebody in the rink watching us,” Riley said.
“Not a lot of kids make it this far,” Erin said. “It’s just a tribute to how hard they worked and it’s not easy, but it’s fun.”