Brothers’ connection on & off the ice

Eric and Andrew Ming describe their first experience of organized hockey together 

Eric and Andrew Ming.
Eric and Andrew Ming. 

The last time the Ming brothers played hockey together, it was back home on a neighbours’ frozen-over cow pasture in Williamstown, Ontario. This near-daily routine was a tradition that many Canadian kids find similar. But the Ming brothers had the talent to continue their hockey-playing days, with both playing in the OHL before coming to Queen’s.

Eric, a third-year Engineering student, and Andrew, a first-year Arts and Science student, are both reveling in the success of the Gaels this season, with the team currently sitting in second place of the OUA’s Eastern Conference, one point behind McGill. 

“Everyone seems to be working with more purpose than in previous years and that’s really been paying off. We like winning, obviously, and it’s been fun coming to the rink everyday,” Eric said.

The brothers, however, play drastically different roles on the team. Coach Brett Gibson described Eric as “an elite player” and this moniker is confirmed with his stats — second on the Queen’s team in goals and points, which places him in the top 15 of the OUA in both categories.

Andrew, on the other hand, hasn’t had consistent ice time this year, largely as a result of being a newcomer on a team filled with talented players. “Andrew’s strength is that he’s a good skater,” Coach Gibson said, “but he’ll have to find a role on this team, and it’s up to him how far he takes that.”

One of the biggest challenges to carving out a role is making the transition to university from playing junior hockey. It’s an experience that Andrew called “different,” but helped by the fact that he’s been away from home, playing on other teams before joining the Gaels. 

The transition to university is something that Eric is very familiar with. The older Ming called his first year at Queen’s “not pleasant” because of the big adjustment of balancing school and hockey — and then once getting the hang of it, getting tired out from the grind of the season. 

“Andrew’s going through the same struggles as I did, adjusting to the different structure, different league — it’s a big adjustment. Everyone handles it differently” Eric said. 

Interestingly enough, and due in large to the age difference between them, Eric and Andrew had never played organized hockey on the same team before this year. They ended up together at Queen’s not because of a recruiting pitch, but because of their familiarity and comfort with Kingston and Queen’s reputation. 

“I told him what it was about, but let him decide,” Eric said of his recruiting pitch to Andrew. “I didn’t make him come to Queen’s, but I’m glad he did.”

Playing together on the Memorial Centre ice is a far cry from the outdoor rinks the Ming brothers frequented in their childhood, and the different venue means that the roughhousing one would expect among brothers no longer exists.

Andrew remembers a time — when he was eight and Eric was 11 — when Eric’s puck handling got him in trouble. “Our oldest brother, who was 13 at the time, couldn’t get the puck off Eric so he just sucker-punched him in the back of the head. We got in a couple of fights as kids but that was probably the biggest one.”       

The days of playing till dark on frozen-over cow pastures are gone, but the Ming brothers, together on the same team for the first time, are enjoying the great success of the Gaels team this season.

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