rom the very beginning, hockey was a family affair in Grant-Mentis’s house. Twenty minutes west of the rink she now calls home as the Toronto Six’s offensive dynamo, she and her twin brother Marquis got their start on the ice side-by-side at two years old. But their dad James is quick to proudly point out they were already watching the sport when they were in diapers, their older brother, Tre, already in hockey gear when the twins were still babies.
Thinking back to those early years on skates, Grant-Mentis remembers two things most clearly — Marquis beside her and the boards in front of her, getting closer and closer. “My brother knew how to stop and I didn’t know how to yet. So we would go, go, go, and then the only way for me to stop was to run into the boards, because that was literally the only way I could stop,” she remembers with a laugh. “That’s my earliest memory of hockey.” Back then, she was the only girl in the family, surrounded by brothers and cousins who were all being given their first spots on pint-sized teams, and her idol in the red jersey. “My dad played Team Canada ball hockey, so we would always watch all his games. I wanted to be just like him,” she says. Her parents, though, weren’t as keen. They had dreams of their daughter being a dancer. But having already gotten a taste of that feeling of flying across the sheet, of her blades cutting lines in the pristine white surface, Grant-Mentis, once again, simply couldn’t stop.
Eventually, she protested enough to earn a compromise of sorts. “Her mother said, ‘You take this one dance class and you’ll be able to play hockey,’” recalls her dad, James. “She took the one dance class and she goes, ‘Okay, I’m done with dance. It’s hockey from here.’”
There was just one problem. “We only had the one vehicle, so they had to play on the same team,” James says. “We couldn’t go to three different spots.” So off four-year-old Grant-Mentis went alongside her brother, the pair starting out together in boys’ hockey. They were already inseparable by then — even Grant-Mentis’s name came from her twin, says Sandra. Spend any time around anyone close to her daughter, and you won’t hear ‘Mikyla’ dropped once, only ‘Buckey.’ The nickname, her mom explains, was coined by Marquis as the twins were breaking in the latest of a never-ending stream of hand-me-down equipment during those first couple spins on the ice. “There was this one helmet. I think it was a JOFA helmet that she got, and it had a dent in it,” Sandra remembers. “And her twin brother’s like, ‘Mikyla, that helmet is so buckey. It’s so bucked up.’ And it just stuck. She’s been called Buckey since she was four.”