SUMMERSIDE – Jeremy McKenna’s main goal is to focus on things within his control.
So far, that strategy has paid off.
McKenna, who’s from Summerside, is coming off a 51-point improvement in his sophomore season with the Moncton Wildcats of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL).
“It was just another year of maturity, and another full year of working hard,” said McKenna in explaining his improved production in an interview with the Journal Pioneer.
“Like they say, if you work hard it is going to pay off.”
After going undrafted in the 2017 National Hockey League Entry Draft, McKenna used that as motivation for the 2017-18 season. He promptly opened a lot of eyes, and is ranked 162nd among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting for this weekend’s draft in Dallas.
“Any time you are overlooked it definitely gives you some more motivation, on and off the ice,” explained the son of Mark and Sara McKenna. “It turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
“I am just focused on getting better every day, and working towards my goal whatever happens this weekend.”
McKenna, who turned 19 in April, has talked to “probably a dozen” teams leading up to the draft.
“I got some pretty good vibes, but you never know with drafts as anything can happen” said a realistic McKenna, who will follow the draft from home. “I am not looking too much into it, I’m just going to check in on it and see what happens.”
After registering 26 points, including 16 goals, in 66 contests during his rookie season with the rebuilding Wildcats, the five-foot-10 and 174-pound right-winger lit the lamp 36 times while collecting 44 assists for 77 points in 68 regular-season games in Year 2.
“I just knew every night I had to show up and give it my best.”
Looking ahead to the 2018-19 season, McKenna said he is looking to build on a leadership role he held this past season.
“I’m going into my third year, so I know what to expect and I can help out the young players,” said McKenna. “I just want to get off to a really good start to the season, carry my momentum and just keep working towards my goals every day.”
With the Wildcats advancing to the second round of the QMJHL playoffs following a regular-season record of 27-33-5-3 (won-lost-overtime losses-shootout losses), McKenna is optimistic about the team’s future.
“We have most of our core guys coming back, and we had a really good draft,” said McKenna. “We will have some good young players coming in.
“We will definitely be a good team, and definitely a team to watch out for.”
When asked to reflect on his first two seasons with the Wildcats, McKenna offered: “Looking back on it, it’s gone really quick. I have nothing but positive things to say about the City of Moncton and the organization. I love the time I’ve had there, and I’m looking forward to getting back there with my teammates.”
Along with an expected contending team, McKenna is also anxiously awaiting the Wildcats’ move to Moncton’s new downtown events centre.
“There’s a ton of excitement,” added McKenna. “The buzz around the city is crazy. From what I hear the rink is unbelievable.
“I’m definitely excited and all the players are excited. We are looking forward to moving in and putting on a good show for the city, because they really deserve it.”