Jeremy McKenna was well on his way to living out his dream after signing a one-year American Hockey League contract with the Calgary Flames farm team the Stockton Heat.
That all changed in a blink of an eye. The dream was on hold.
“Obviously, it was a little disappointing, but stuff like that happens at the next level,” confessed McKenna.
McKenna was sent down to Kansas City Mavericks of the East Coast Hockey League on October 3rd and the decision to return to the junior ranks became imminent.
The Summerside Sniper has faced his share of adversity throughout his career. It seems like the naturally gifted goal scorer has had to prove the critics wrong at every level. Some would say returning to junior is a big set back, McKenna doesn’t see it that way.
“I’m lucky to have had the opportunity to come back to Moncton,” said the veteran sniper.
“I think it’s going to work out either way,” admitted McKenna.
“It came down to a numbers game. The Flames signed two PTO guys out of camp which had a ripple down effect,” explained a reflective McKenna.
McKenna has always embraced the grind and is using his latest pro experience to grow and develop as a player and person.
“I had a good opportunity to train with the Flames Prospects and regulars so I really tried to take advantage of that and I tried to learn from guys like Mark Giordano.”
“I spent three weeks in August and all of September in Calgary,” McKenna said.
“Being in the gym with them I tried to take the little things that they do, so it was a good opportunity and something that I’m happy with.”
“It was a good experience and really good training.”
From being away from home and training out west for most of the summer to skating with arguably the two of the best players in the NHL, Jeremy McKenna really had a surreal off-season.
“That was special,” McKenna said of skating along side Sidney Crosby and Nathan McKinnon for a few days.
“I was driving from PEI to an indoor turf facility and got there early.”
McKenna entered the facility to get some stretching done before the formal workout when he accidently ran into Nathan McKinnon and Sidney Crosby.
Alexi Pianosi who helped McKenna train for a while in Halifax was there as well as famed strength and conditioning guru Andy O’Brien.
“I ran into them by accident, which was pretty cool,” confessed McKenna.
“I got talking to Sid and he invited me out onto the ice. It’s something that I will never forget and something that I will be able to tell my kids one day,” McKenna said proudly.
From the excitement of signing a pro contract, to the disappointment of being sent down to the ECHL and seeing that dream put on hold to returning to the QMJHL, the quiet soft-spoken sniper has taken everything in stride.
Through it all McKenna remains driven to win while never giving up on his dream.
In His Sights
Jeremy McKenna’s return to the Moncton Wildcats changes everything.
Nevertheless, the prolific scorer has his sights set on only two goals.
McKenna is closing in on a number of All-Time Wildcats individual records, but that doesn’t really matter to the high scoring winger.
His final mission and two main objectives at the junior ranks are clear, to win a championship and sign an NHL Entry Level Contract.
It’s evident that the Wildcats will be going all in this season in hopes of capturing the President Cup and Memorial Cup.
McKenna will play massive role this season on the organizations quest for a championship(s).
Nonetheless, the elite level scorer and playmaker isn’t feeling the same amount of pressure to score that he has experienced in the past.
“It’s always nice when you have a great team and that you don’t feel like you have to score every night for the team to win, but personally I’m a goal scorer, that’s my knack and that’s something that I’m going to continue to do.”
“I maybe not putting as much pressure on myself in that aspect of the game because I know that is pro ready.”
“I’m going to continue to work on other aspects of my game that aren’t pro ready, that’s something I’m working on every day,” explained the twenty-year-old.
“It’s really nice having a team that you don’t really have the pressure every night that you have to score, but you still personally want to do well.”
In 12 games, McKenna has 10 goals and 8 assists and is a +12.
Relaxed and focused could prove to be a lethal combination this season for The Summerside Sniper.
McKenna along with speedy diminutive centermen Mika Cyr have showcased their tremendous chemistry for the past three seasons and are looking to provide invaluable leadership and scoring in their final tour of duty in the Q.
“It’s a really good bond,” McKenna said of playing with Cyr.
“Mika is a really good player.”
“He’s a good smart and really good center ice men to play with.”
“Mika’s definitely a 200ft player which is nice to have and I think that something that sets us a part and a reason that we have such great chemistry is that we are always talking on the bench and always chatting about different plays and different looks.”
Cyr has 21 points in 19 games this season and is coming off a career year for games played and points.
Elliot Desnoyers has flanked the overage duo throughout the year, but one would assume if the Cats add a veteran scoring presence that Desnoyers would be moved off their line.
“Being a veteran now and an experienced guy the Trade Period is part of major junior hockey. I have had some of my best friends been traded,” said McKenna.
“The Trade Period is something that’s always difficult and it isn’t always easy when you’re dealing with friends and teammates.”
So how does McKenna see this year’s Trade Period shake down?
“We will be buying at the deadline, which is good because it means that you have a team that everyone thinks can win a championship so that’s exciting.”
“I’ll welcome in any players with open arms and help them however I can.”
“I’m looking forward to it and we will see what happens in the future.”
So what would it mean to McKenna to have a chance to play for a President Cup and Memorial Cup in his final year in the league?
“It would be special,” confessed McKenna.
“When you walk away from a contract like that, you come back hungry and wanting to win.”
“I was apart of that rebuilding team three years ago and to be a part of that at the lowest of lows, it just feels like there is unfinished business.”
“I feel this year anything short of championship would be disappointing,” McKenna said.
“With that being said I really believe in the group and we have a really strong team, but we want to keep building and putting up the points to finish as high as we can in the standings and have a good run in the playoffs and take it from there.”
So what about the personal objective?
“The only personal goal that I have for myself is to sign a NHL entry level deal.”
“That’s the goal. That’s the only thing I think of when I wake up in the morning.”
“That’s what I’m focusing on and I’m working every day towards it.”