Nevada is not a hotbed for hockey, but that’s where Tri-City’s Beau McCue and Kelowna’s Gage Quinney honed their hockey skills.
While Quinney is a Las Vegas native, McCue ended up in the Nevada desert where his mom Sharon took a teaching job and his dad, Geno, was coaching hockey.
“We were moving for my mom’s job, and a place that would be good for hockey,” McCue said. “Even though Vegas doesn’t seem like a good hockey place, we had connections there.”
It was at a hockey rink in Las Vegas where McCue and Quinney met when they were 12 years old. They ended up playing on the same team that season and the next, then again at 16 years old.
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“I played against him once in youth hockey, but for the most part we were on the same team,” Quinney said. “It’s weird not having him on my team. It seems just like yesterday that we played together. Your hockey friends are always your long-term friends.”
The childhood friends were on opposite ends of the ice in the Western Conference first-round series between Tri-City and Kelowna. The Rockets swept the series Wednesday, with Quinney getting the game winner in overtime.
“It’s nice to see him and catch up,” McCue said. “On the ice, it’s different. There’s a competitive spirit – it’s strictly business.”
McCue and his dad, Geno, took Quinney to dinner Monday after the Rockets rolled into Kennewick. It was a casual meal at Applebee’s, but Quinney said it was good to catch up.
“We Snapchat every now and again,” Quinney said of keeping in touch with McCue during the season. “It was good to see his dad, too.”
Geno McCue helped coach the boys when they were 14 and playing for the Las Vegas Outlaws. They won the bantam AA U.S. National title.
McCue moved to Phoenix when he was 15. The next year, Quinney got drafted to the Junior Coyotes and reunited with McCue in Arizona.
They played on the same line most of the time, with McCue at center and Quinney as one of his wingmen.
Who was the better player? “We complemented each other,” McCue said.
From Phoenix, the two budding hockey players went their separate ways in the Western Hockey League. McCue was listed by the Americans and Quinney by the Prince Albert Raiders.
While McCue has spent his whole career with Tri-City, Quinney spent 1 ½ years with the Raiders before getting traded to Kelowna right before Christmas.
“This was a good move for me,” Quinney said. “It is unreal here. It’s a lot of fun to play in a winning atmosphere.”
McCue, who started his hockey career as a goalie at 4 ½ years old, lasted one year in net.
“He told his dad it was boring and he wanted to score,” Sharon McCue said.
Turns out, he’s pretty good at that. McCue and Richard Nejezchleb led the Americans in scoring during the regular season with 51 points. McCue had a team-high 26 goals.
“I love it here,” McCue said of the Tri-Cities. “I love the city, the fans, the community. I really enjoy playing here. I have made this my home.”