By Len Bardsley
The Times of Trenton
Chris Minard never had to look very far to find a challenging game of hockey growing up in Owen Sound, Ontario.
You would think that would be the case for most kids living a couple hours northwest of Toronto. Minard, however, could find the toughest competition simply looking across the breakfast table.
As a goalie and being five years older, Mike Minard never wanted to let Chris get a shot past him because he would never hear the end of it. When Mike was not around the Minard family played host family to the Owen Sound Junior `A’ team in the Ontario Hockey League and had guests such as future NHL players Jamie Storr and the late Dan Snyder.
It is no surprise Chris Minard has developed into one of the top forwards in the ECHL for the Alaska Aces where he has scored 26 goals in 36 games this season and was named to the Northern Conference All-Star team.
He will finally get another chance to shoot on his brother Tuesday and Wednesday during the ECHL All-Star skills competition and game in Reading at the Sovereign Center after Mike was named the starting goalie for the Southern Conference team representing the Columbia Inferno.
Chris and Mike Minard are the first brother combination to make the ECHL All-Star game.
“It is pretty exciting,” said Mike Minard. “The only disadvantage is he is shooting on me. It will be great to spend the week with him.”
Mike left home when he was 16 years old to pursue his hockey dreams. It didn’t take long for his skills to get noticed and he was drafted by the Edmonton Oilers in the fourth round of the 1995 NHL draft.
“Every little kid looks up to their older brother,” said Chris. “I always wanted to do what he was doing and do the best I could to play with him or against him. I wanted to follow in his footsteps.”
Though it has been a circuitous route at times, Mike Minard has provided a good path for Chris to follow. Mike got one sweet taste of NHL action, winning a game for the Oilers at Calgary during the 1999-2000 season in a game broadcast on Hockey Night in Canada (the Canadian equivalent to Monday Night Football).
Mike would later earn a trip to the American Hockey League all-star game and was selected as the AHL Man of the Year for his charity work during the 1999-2000 season.
“We both wanted to move on,” said Mike Minard. “We were fortunate enough to have our parents (house) Junior Hockey players growing up. It made us want to play beyond minor hockey. I think we pushed each other and me moving on pushed him as well.”
Chris was quick to check in with Mike for advice after he was called up to Milwaukee last week, his first promotion to the AHL.
“Growing up he would give me hints,” said Chris of Mike, who has played 140 games in the AHL. “I talked to him about being in the AHL and he told me to have fun stay relax and work hard. He has always given me pointers.”
Chris Minard claims he won’t be giving out pointers to his Northern Conference teammates during the all-star game.
“I want to see him do well,” said Chris of Mike. “I don’t even know where to shoot.”
Chris would like the opportunity to shoot on Mike during the skills competition which includes breakaways.
“Why not make it interesting,” said Chris. “In the summer when we play pickup hockey back home we would always be on separate teams. Whenever I scored, which was not very often, it would not be a pretty sight. You never want your younger brother to score on you. He would break a stick across the crossbar.”
Mike is already pondering the high-stakes brother all-star game.
“I am sure we will have a side bet,” said Mike. “I hope he does not light me up too much.”