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 Medicine Hat Tigers

McKenna Named WHL Rookie of the Year

May 7, 2024 - Western Hockey League (WHL)
Medicine Hat Tigers News Release

Medicine Hat, AB - The Western Hockey League announced Tuesday morning that Tigers F Gavin McKenna (Whitehorse, YT) has won the Jim Piggott Memorial Trophy as the league's Rookie of the Year for 2023-2024.

McKenna, 16, lead the Tigers in scoring this season with 97 points, (34 goals, 63 assists) in 61 games played with the Tigers. His accolades throughout the season included four game winning goals, 12 power play goals and 44 power play points. As well McKenna won the WHL Rookie of the Week honours twice during the season and was the league's Player of the Month for January.

Currently at the World U18 Tournament in Finland, McKenna has notched ten goals and ten assists as an underaged forward for the team all in part of winning a gold medal. He's NHL Draft eligible in 2026.

The Yukoner also represented Canada at the World U17 Tournament scoring eight points (five goals, three assists) in seven games.

WHL Rookie of the Year - Division Winners

B.C. Division - Terik Parascak (Lethbridge, Alta.), Prince George Cougars

East Division - Evan Gardner (Fort St. John, B.C.), Saskatoon Blades

U.S. Division - Julius Miettinen (Helsinki, Finland), Everett Silvertips

"It is a true honour to win this award," McKenna said. "I want to congratulate Terik, Evan and Julius on your guys' incredible seasons. The future is extremely bright for our league with upcoming players like you guys in it.

I want to thank all my amazing teammates for being there for me and guiding me through such an amazing and unforgettable year. I want to thank the Tigers coaching staff and everyone in the Tigers organization for everything they do for me behind the scenes and, most importantly, I'd like to thank my family for being my motivation every single day and always being there for me no matter what. I'm extremely honored and can't wait to get next season started."

McKenna was one of the youngest players on an active roster during the season, turning 16 on December 20, 2023.

The Whitehorse, Yukon standout tallied 34 goals and 63 assists for 97 points in 67 games.

His remarkable run saw him lead the Tigers in goals and points, sit second in scoring among WHL rookies and finish 12th among all WHL skaters.

McKenna also set a franchise record for most points by a 16-year-old, surpassing Al Conroy's previous marker of 95 points, which was set back in the 1982-83 season.

The 2026 NHL Draft-eligible winger logged a career-high six points (one goal, five assists) against Tri-City on January 6 and had another 14 games where he notched three or more points, including two hat tricks.

He was named WHL Player of the Month for January and WHL Rookie of the Month in February, in addition to a trio of weekly award.

McKenna, a member of Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in First Nation, became the first junior hockey player to capture the APTN Bryan Trottier Most Valuable Player Award, which is presented to an Indigenous hockey player who demonstrates on-ice excellence and contributes to the Indigenous community.

On the international stage, McKenna set a new record for points by a Canadian (20) with 10 goals and 10 assists in seven games en route to a gold-medal finish with Team Canada at the 2024 IIHF U18 World Championship in Finland.

McKenna is the fourth Medicine Hat Tigers player to earn the Jim Piggott Memorial Trophy as the league's Rookie of the Year, and the first to do so since 1986.

The Jim Piggott Memorial Trophy is presented annually to the player whose performance in their first season is deemed to be the most outstanding among all rookies.

A former owner of the Saskatoon Blades, Jim Piggott was a driving force in the formation of the Western Canadian Hockey League, now known as the WHL.

Along with Del Wilson, Piggott played a critical role in the unification of all three Major Junior leagues across Canada into what is now known as the Canadian Hockey League.

Winners of the Jim Piggott Memorial Trophy (since 2003)

2023-24 Gavin McKenna, Medicine Hat Tigers

2022-23 Ryder Ritchie, Prince Albert Raiders

2021-22 Brayden Yager, Moose Jaw Warriors*

2020-21 Connor Bedard, Regina Pats

2019-20 Dylan Guenther, Edmonton Oil Kings

2018-19 Brayden Tracey, Moose Jaw Warriors

2017-18 Dylan Cozens, Lethbridge Hurricanes

2016-17 Aleksi Heponiemi, Swift Current Broncos

2015-16 Matthew Phillips, Victoria Royals

2014-15 Nolan Patrick, Brandon Wheat Kings

2013-14 Nick Merkley, Kelowna Rockets

2012-13 Seth Jones, Portland Winterhawks

2011-12 Sam Reinhart, Kootenay ICE

2010-11 Mathew Dumba, Red Deer Rebels

2009-10 Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Red Deer Rebels

2008-09 Brett Connolly, Prince George Cougars*

2007-08 Brayden Schenn, Brandon Wheat Kings

2006-07 Kyle Beach, Everett Silvertips

2005-06 Peter Mueller, Everett Silvertips

2004-05 Tyler Plante, Brandon Wheat Kings

2003-04 Gilbert Brule, Vancouver Giants

2002-03 Matt Ellison, Red Deer Rebels*

* - also selected as Canadian Hockey League Rookie of the Year

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