The 15-year-old Yukon hockey phenom is taking the spotlight at the Canada Games
Already considered a top contender in the NHL, a 15-year-old from the Yukon has taken the Canada Games by storm.
Captain Gavin McKenna has led the territory’s men’s ice hockey team in a historic streak after scoring over 20 points in games to date.
The forward received exceptional status and was a first pick by the Medicine Hat Tigers in the 2022 Western Hockey League Draft. Scouts say he’s already considered a potential top pick if he qualifies for the 2026 NHL draft.
But for now, McKenna says he’s taking things a game at the time.
“When you’re at the rink, you don’t really think about it too much,” he said. “But to be honest, it’s a pretty cool feeling to have this title behind you. Not everyone gets that.”
The forward scored a hat-trick with an assist in Tuesday’s game against Team PEI, with Yukon beating the locals 5-3.
It’s a historic moment for hockey in the region, which has never won more than one game at the Canada Games.
“Making history for the Yukon has been amazing,” said McKenna. “It’s an incredible feeling to have this group of guys behind us. It’s one of the tightest groups I’ve been in and we haven’t really played together all year. It was definitely very inspiring.”
“[McKenna is] a great talent, a very special player and it’s really an honor to coach him,” said head coach Ken Anderson.
“It’s the rest of the guys too. It’s really a privilege to coach them too. A lot of good, good hockey players and a lot of good people too.”
Anderson said many talented hockey players have come from the Yukon and the North, such as Dylan Cozens, who is from Whitehorse and plays for the Buffalo Sabers.
He said he hopes McKenna will inspire kids from smaller provinces to dream big.
“These are big dreams. Hopefully the kids dream big,” Anderson said. “Dream big and follow your dreams. I think they are worth it.”
Team PEI goaltender Hudson Bradley said it was something he would remember for the rest of his life.
“He’s a really good player and I’ve been watching him for a while,” said Bradley, who hails from Stratford.
“I knew he was fast, I knew his shot was really fast, so all I was thinking was to be ready for a shot at any moment. It’s just a matter of keeping an eye on him all the time.”
Bradley said it was “pretty surreal” to have stopped McKenna at a breakaway.