What’s in a number? Every number in the game of hockey means something to the player, team and fan base.
It seems like every number has a special place in the hearts of players, their families, the team and fans of the game.
For eight years in a row, the Moncton Wildcats saw #12 worn by not only great players, but two outstanding people.
Stephen Johnson, a hometown boy with tremendous heart, grit and skill wore the number from 2012 to 2016.
Summerside, PEI’s own Jeremy McKenna donned the number in a probably the most trying year in Wildcats history in 2016-2017. The then rebuilding Cats were in search of an offensive saviour. They were searching for their heart and soul.
They drafted Jakob Pelletier, 3rd overall in 2017 and he quickly became the corner stone of the franchise, but it was McKenna that provided the bulk of naturally goal scoring talent over the next four years.
Both Johnson and McKenna have faced their fair share of adversity and criticism throughout their careers.
Johnson, was always thought to be too small, while McKenna was never fast enough and could never possibly play at the next level. Nevertheless, both these players shared a common denominator, heart.
Johnson, nor McKenna never pointed the finger, never felt entitled, never blamed anyone, they seemed to be driven by all the scepticism and negativity.
Driven to prove people wrong, but driven to prove people right.
You see both players had unbelievable support systems and families that always believed in their abilities and talents.
Their drive and relentless will to compete was always grounded in the value of hard work.
Johnson and McKenna never quit, never took a shift off, never stopped believing in their talent, never gave up on the dream.
Their journey in the game has led them in different directions, but the two former #12’s and the heart and soul of the Moncton Wildcats organization during their separate tenures now find themselves on the same team.
Ironically their career pathways have finally converged.
The former Wildcat stars now find themselves on the same team. Thousands of miles away from their homes and families, Johnson and McKenna now share a common dream to hoist the Kelly Cup with the ECHL’s Wichita Thunder.
For eight years in a row the Moncton Wildcats organization and their fan base had players and a number they could believe in. Two players that always lifted up their teammates, organization and the city. The common bond shared between a number perhaps may have been a coincidence, but the similarities between the character, will and soul of the players and people that wore it was truly incredible.
The two twelves are finally together, playing the game they love at a level where everyone said they could never reach.
What’s in a number? Well let’s just say this, it looks like #12 is in good hands with Alexis Daniel. For more on Daniel’s journey in the game check out his story here. Daniel was just named the Cats Rookie of the Year.