15-year-old hockey phenom from Yukon takes the spotlight at Canada Games
A 15-year-old from the Yukon who's already seen as a top NHL prospect has taken the Canada Games by storm.
Captain Gavin McKenna has led the territory's men's hockey squad on a historic streak, having recorded over 20 points so far in the Games.
The forward was granted exceptional status and selected as first pick by the Medicine Hat Tigers in the 2022 Western Hockey League Draft. Scouts say he's already seen as a potential top pick when he's eligible for the NHL draft in 2026.
But for now, McKenna says he's taking things a game at the time.
"When you're in the rink you don't really think about it too much," he said. "But honestly, it's a pretty cool feeling to have that title behind you. Not everybody gets that."
The forward scored a hat trick with one assist on their game against Team P.E.I. on Tuesday, with Yukon beating the locals 5-3.
It's a historic moment for hockey in the territory, which had never won more than one match at the Canada Games.
"Making history for Yukon, it's been awesome," McKenna said. "It's an unbelievable feeling having these group of guys behind us. It's one of the tightest groups I've ever been on and we haven't really played with each other all year. It's been really inspiring, for sure."
"[McKenna is] a superb talent, a very special player and really it's an honour to coach him," said head coach Ken Anderson.
"It's the rest of the boys too. It's really a privilege to coach them as well. A lot of good, good hockey players and a lot of good people, too."
Anderson said a lot of talented hockey players have come out of the Yukon and the North, like Dylan Cozens, the Whitehorse native who's playing for the Buffalo Sabres.
He said he hopes McKenna inspires children from smaller provinces to dream big.
"Those are big dreams. Hopefully the kids, they dream big," Anderson said. "Dream big and chase your dreams. I think they're worthwhile."
Hudson Bradley, goaltender for Team P.E.I., said facing McKenna is something he'll remember for the rest of his life.
"He's really a good player and I've been watching him for a while now," said Bradley, who's from Stratford.
"I knew he was fast, I knew his shot was really quick so I was just thinking about being ready for a shot at all times. It's just being aware of him the whole time."
Bradley said having managed to stop McKenna on a breakaway was "pretty surreal."