Article by: Taylor Stewart
Gavin McKenna was granted exceptional player status earlier last year which put him at the top of the radar for the WHL draft. There was no doubt in the minds of Medicine Hat Tigers brass that he was worth it as they snatched him with the first overall pick in 2022.
So far this hockey season, he has split his time between the Medicine Hat Tigers and the South Alberta Hockey Academy. He has 73 points with SAHA and eight assists in 11 games with the Tigers.
The hype behind the name doesn’t stop yet either. In just six contests this Winter Games, McKenna recorded 29 points including 14 goals, smashing a Canada Games record that stood for 28 years. The previous record for points in a tournament was 27, set by Francois Methot of Quebec in 1995 and tied by Kelsey Tessier of New Brunswick in 2007.
“It’s unbelievable. Obviously, so many great players come through here. Sidney Crosby, Nathan MacKinnon, hopefully, my career keeps going. It’s a cool thing for sure and obviously couldn’t have done it without my teammates, they were unbelievable, coaches and trainers as well,” said McKenna.
It’s safe to say I don’t think anyone has doubts about McKenna’s career continuing in a positive direction. As a 15-year-old, McKenna is already being viewed by scouts as a top prospect for the 2026 NHL draft, that’s right, 2026. For now, though, it’s back to the WHL and possibly SAHA for McKenna.
“I’m going to take some leadership skills back with me. Obviously, with representing Yukon and wearing the ‘C’ I tried to lead as much as I could. I'm going to try and bring back some good habits, use my speed as much as I can and work on my shot,” McKenna said.
As all good teammates do, McKenna gave credit to his fellow Yukoners for getting him to the record and he couldn’t be more proud of his territory.
“It was unbelievable. Just all the support from all the fans and the guys in the room. This is an experience of a lifetime for all of us and we’ve made so many memories. It’ll be one of the tournaments I never forget,” said McKenna. “It was an honour wearing the Yukon jersey and obviously to wear the ‘C’. It was so amazing to represent the Yukon and I’m so proud.”
Even earlier on in the tournament, McKenna wasn’t focused on any records, his only concern was talking about Yukon and how proud he was of his territory.
“It’d definitely be awesome but what our team is doing right now is unbelievable. Yukon has never won two games let alone three so to make it through is unbelievable. It’d be cool for sure to have that title but right now just focus on Yukon, it's been amazing so far,” said McKenna.
McKenna, as all great leaders do, acknowledges all the people and figures who have been a part of getting him to where he is today.
“Obviously watch NHLers every day and try to replicate their game. I used to watch Nathan MacKinnon quite a bit. For me though, it’s obviously my parents. They’ve done so much for me. I had a backyard rink growing up every year and I think that’s huge. They do everything for me so they’re definitely my role models for sure,” said McKenna.