Getting the opportunity to play for your hometown team at a young age is something most can only dream about.
For Riley McKay, he was able to live that dream and play for the Swan Valley Stampeders as a 16-year-old in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL), before moving on to play four years in the Western Hockey League (WHL) between Spokane and Saskatoon.
“The MJHL is a great league that gives players the opportunity to showcase themselves to potentially take the next step forward,” McKay shared about his experience playing in his hometown of Swan River.
“I think playing in the MJHL definitely helped me a lot with moving on to the next level. Playing against older, faster and stronger players at a young age prepared me to take the next step and helped me develop into the player I am now.”
His play with the Stamps’ in the 2015-16 season turned heads in the WHL and earned him a spot on the Spokane Chiefs. After two seasons with Spokane, McKay was dealt to Saskatoon where he capped off his junior career as an assistant captain for the Blades this past season.
McKay’s unique mix of grit and skill most recently earned him a 1-year deal with the American Hockey League’s (AHL) Rockford IceHogs, where he will look to earn a roster spot with the Chicago Blackhawks top affiliate for the 2020-21 season.
“Never give up on yourself and keep working hard. Some players develop at a young age and others at an older age. You don’t need to be a flashy goal scorer to get noticed. Successful teams have role players that play the right way and play their role to the best of their ability,” McKay concluded.
During his 2015-16 rookie campaign with Swan Valley, McKay scored 12 goals, adding 22 assists and 151 penalty minutes in 54 games.
Five years later, McKay earned himself his first professional contract.