One of four hockey playing brothers, Hughes right at home with the Griffins

Liam Hughes is excited to play at home this season after playing for five different AJHL teams over his junior career (Jefferson Hagen photo).
Liam Hughes is excited to play at home this season after playing for five different AJHL teams over his junior career (Jefferson Hagen photo).

Jason Hills 
For MacEwan Athletics 
EDMONTON – For Liam Hughes, home is certainly where his heart is.

After playing away from home in the Alberta Junior Hockey League the last few years, the 21-year-old is back in his hometown and playing for the MacEwan Griffins. 

"I had some different options, but I knew I always wanted to go to school back home and when (MacEwan head coach) Zack (Dailey), reached out, I made it obvious, this is where I wanted to be," said Hughes, who played in Spruce Grove, Sherwood Park, Olds, Brooks and Fort McMurray over his five-year Junior A career. 

"Just being away from home was tough, but I was fortunate to have really great billet families in Olds and Fort Mac. It gave me a sense of being at home with my brothers. I relished that." 

Hughes will lead the Griffins into a home weekend series vs. Manitoba on Friday (7 p.m.) and Saturday (4 p.m., both at the Downtown Community Arena, Canada West TV).


Hughes is the third born of four brothers who all play hockey at a high level. His oldest brother Cameron is a former draft pick of the Boston Bruins, and is currently playing for the Coachella Valley Firebirds, who are the farm team of the Seattle Kraken. 

His brother Ryan, played in the Western Hockey League for five years before jumping to the University of Alberta, and now plays pro hockey in England. 

His youngest brother Ethan is just starting his major junior career this year with the Moose Jaw Warriors. 

"We're all close and the bond we have is special. We always talk to each other on FaceTime when we're not at home during the season. We always support one another, whether it's on the ice or off the ice. We always have each other's back," said Hughes. 

"I've learned so much from my brothers. We certainly had a lot of heated battles playing street hockey when we were kids, but my brothers showed me the way, because they all went through it." 

 Liam Hughes carries the puck into the zone against Alberta last weekend (Joel Kingston).

The brotherly bond has always been strong, but it became unbreakable when Ethan was diagnosed with Stage 1 kidney cancer when he was just 10 years old. 

"That's something you don't wish for anyone to go through, especially a child at 10 years old," said Hughes. 

"Our bond was always strong, but it grew even stronger then. We all rallied around Ethan when he was going through that." 

Liam, and his older brothers Ryan and Cameron shaved their heads in support of their younger brother while he was going through chemotherapy. 

"We wanted him to know he wasn't going to be alone going through that fight. It was such a scary thing for him to go through, we wanted him to know we had his back," said Hughes. 

Liam's parents, Pauline and Brian, have also been huge supporters of Liam and his brother's hockey journeys. 

Over the years, they've travelled all over North America watching their son's games. Now, they will only have to hop in the car and drive to the Downtown Community Arena to see Liam play for the Griffins. 

"I feel like I'm saving them gas and hotel expenses, but my other brothers aren't doing that for them this time around," joked Hughes. 

"Now, they're chasing Ethan, who started playing for Moose Jaw this year. They've been down there a few different times. 

"It's crazy what they went through with four sons playing hockey. They've been to so many early morning practices, I can't thank them enough. They've done more than anyone could ever ask for." 

Hughes was a late addition to the Griffins roster, but he's finding his way in his first year of playing at the university level. 

Last weekend, he earned his first-career Canada West point, an assist on linemate Conrad Mitchell's first-career goal against cross-town rival Alberta Golden Bears. 

Liam Hughes gets into a post-whistle scrum with a Golden Bears player last weekend (Joel Kingston photo).

"He was on my recruiting list of AJHL players, and one of the things I really liked about him was his playmaking ability," said Griffins head coach Zack Dailey. 

"But more importantly, when I would talk to others about him, they spoke so highly about his character, his work-ethic and great of a young man he is, and those are the types of players we want to add to our program." 

For Hughes, the adjustment from Junior A to the university ranks is certainly a big one, but he's catching on fast and finding his role on the team this year. 

He has his sights set on developing into an integral piece for the Griffins over the next few years. 

"There's been an adjustment period, but I'm gaining more confidence and I feel like I can be a player that can be relied on to go out and make plays," said Hughes. 

"I want to become a player that my teammates and coaches can rely on in all situations. I feel like on a team like MacEwan, I have put myself in a good situation here, I just need to make the most of it." 

Liam hopes one day that he can follow in his two older brothers' footsteps and play professional hockey. 

"We've never actually played together on a team at any point in our careers. We always kind of joke if we were all to play on a line together, where would we play? I think I'd play the wing, Cameron would play centre, and Ryan the other wing. We'd throw Ethan back on defence," laughed Hughes. 

"But honestly, that's why I'm still playing at a high level. That's my ultimate goal. I want to put myself in a position to play pro one day. 

"I've learned so much from Cameron and Ryan in that regard, I would love to experience that one day."