The Moynihan brothers of Windham are playing for a new team, in a new league in a new country. The attendance has increased roughly 90-fold.
One thing hasn’t changed. The dream of making it big.
To realize that dream, 17-year-old Danny and 16-year-old Connor Moynihan have pulled up stakes and moved in with a host family to play for the defending champion Halifax Mooseheads of the vaunted Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
“We went to Halifax for a few days and came back empty-nesters,” said the boys’ father, Dan Sr. “It’s very strange with them being gone and the house being so quiet.”
The boys had been accustomed to quiet during games. That’s changed in the Q, as the league is known.
Their Sept. 12 home opener drew 9,301 to the Metro Centre. In their next home game, they drew 4,048. At these times, Halifax seems much further than 410 miles away from Windham.
Playing junior hockey while attending Windham High, the Moynihans never played before anything like that before.
“Tops maybe 100 fans, and that was only on occasion,” said Danny of his previous top crowds. “Usually it was 20-30 fans. It’s unbelievable coming here.”
Connor said of the opener, “I had goose bumps the whole night.”
As if leaving home at such a young age isn’t difficult enough. The tradeoff for playing in the Q, with its crowds, tradition, talent, and reputation with the NHL, is you lose your college eligibility.
Since they were old enough to skate, the dream was to follow in the Division 1 footsteps of their uncle, Ryan Moynihan (45 career goals at Cornell), and cousins Chuck Tomes (Northeastern 2005-06 captain) and Scott Tomes (two-year starting goalie at UConn). All three cousins played minor league hockey in the ECHL.
Danny said, “I grew up going to Division 1 college hockey games. I guess I thought Division 1 was the way to go. Until I came here.”