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Yukoner Gavin McKenna leads scoring in Canada’s U18 world hockey champs win

Hat trick in gold medal win makes McKenna tournament’s top scorer
Team Canada celebrates their victory at the U18 World Championships. The Yukon’s Gavin McKenna, number 9, scored a hat trick in the gold medal game against the U.S.A. (Andre Ringuette/International Ice Hockey Federation)

The Yukon’s Gavin McKenna led scoring for the Canadian team at the U18 men’s world hockey championship in a comeback that earned them gold medal honours over the American team.

This year’s U18 tournament took place in Finland. Its gold medal game, held May 5, was a showdown between undefeated Canada and U.S. teams.

Going into the gold medal match, McKenna had seven goals for the tournament. The 16-year-old forward, currently fresh off his rookie season in the WHL with the Medicine Hat Tigers, also had nine assists.

Christian Humphreys tallied up the only goal of the opening period for the Americans in the last minute.

Ryder Ritchie tied it up early for Canada but shortly afterwards Cole Eiserman was able to put Team U.S.A. back in front, capitalizing on a power play that came out of a Canadian high-sticking penalty.

Cole Hutson stretched the U.S. lead to two but then got sent to the box on a hooking call shortly thereafter.

On the power play, McKenna scored his first of the game assisted by Tij Iginla and Henry Mews.

The Canadians fended off two more power plays before the second period was out, thanks in part to heroic netminding from Carter George, who would face 19 shots in the first two periods and 35 before the game was out.

Trying for a third-frame comeback, the Canadian team took to the ice and got an early power-play opportunity that the Americans outlasted. They would get a longer advantage when Trevor Connelly of the American team got tossed out on a game misconduct for a high hit.

McKenna capitalized on the power play, scoring the equalizer and opening the flood gates. Cole Beaudoin and Iginla scored another two for the Canadians in quick succession to make it 5-3 for Canada.

The Americans made a game of it in the final five minutes with a goal from Brodie Ziemer. Shortly thereafter, they pulled the goalie to push for the equalizer but McKenna got the puck again and slapped home the empty netter, securing the hat trick and his spot as top-scorer for the tournament.

“The best feeling in the world,” McKenna said, quoted in a post on the International Ice Hockey Federation’s website. “You know, it’s a family in that room there. George kept us in it when we needed him. And just from our defence to our offence, we were all clicking, and that’s an unbelievable feeling. I’ll remember this forever.”

Earlier this year, McKenna was nominated for the Jim Piggott Memorial Trophy, the WHL’s rookie of the year award. The Tigers, who he plays with, were bumped off in the first round of the WHL playoffs in a series against the Red Deer Rebels.

Contact Jim Elliot at

Jim Elliot

About the Author: Jim Elliot

I’m a B.C. transplant here in Whitehorse at The News telling stories about the Yukon's people, environment, and culture.
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