This past week, the Manitoba hockey community has come together to honour the life of McKenna Riley. A 20-year-old, third-year forward of the Manitoba Women’s Junior Hockey League, and former Winnipeg Women’s High School Hockey League player, Riley’s death was sudden and unexpected.
Riley first skated with the Sturgeon Heights Lady Huskies hockey team before joining the Kelvin High Clippers, where she served as team captain in the WWHSHL. Her leadership skills were noticed upon entrance to the Manitoba Women’s Junior Hockey League, as Riley did serve as a leader within the Silvertips throughout her time playing junior.
Survived by parents Lisa and Kevin and big sister Brooke-lyn (1997-born), Riley was passionate about hockey, music festivals and travel. McKenna and Brooke-lyn (five-year member of the Silvertips) were able to enjoy playing together with the Silvertips, which also saw the two take part in the MWJHL’s global initiative over the 2018 holiday season. The trip saw a select group of players travel to Europe for exhibition matches against teams from the various host countries/communities.
Riley has spent the past few seasons wearing the Silvertips’ orange and black. Following a 33-game campaign in 2018-19 – to which she put up seven goals and 11 points, while remaining out of the penalty box – the left-shooting forward earned two goals and 12 points, including one power play goal in 2019-20, finishing second in team scoring.
A highly-sportsmanlike player, Riley finally found her first seat in the sin bin in her third-last game of the year prior to the COVID-19 league shutdown in early March of 2020. Her penalty-free streak spanned 54 games during the final two seasons of her MWJHL career. Riley was set to begin action within the league this past fall, prior to the ‘Code Red’ Manitoba Public Health Order delivered in October.
The Manitoba hockey scene has come together online to honour the life of the Argyle, MB. product. A variety of Twitter posts from the community have helped paint a clear picture of the kind of person Riley was.
“The WWHSHL was saddened to hear the news of the sudden passing of McKenna Riley,” the WWHSHL wrote in a statement. “McKenna was a four-year veteran of the WWHSHL, playing for both Sturgeon Heights and Kelvin High School and made significant contributions to both teams on and off the ice. Her teammates will remember McKenna as a player who would brighten up any dressing room she walked into with her big smile, kind heart and infectious laugh. She was the embodiment of everything that our League represents. She will be dearly missed by our hockey community, and by everyone who had the great privilege of knowing her. We would like to pass along our deepest sympathies to the Riley Family and McKenna’s numerous friends, coaches and teammates. Rest in peace McKenna.”
“The MWJHL would like to offer its condolences to the family and friends of McKenna Riley on her sudden passing,” the MWJHL posted online. “She had been a member of the MWJHL Silvertips for the last 2 ½ seasons, and was well-known for her sportsmanlike play. She will be sadly missed by everyone who knew her.”
“We are at a loss for words,” wrote the Silvertips. “Such a devastating feeling for all her family and friends. A special person who always brought a positive attitude to the rink. A great friend/teammate. Kenna your Silvertips Family past /present will miss you deeply. We are gonna miss your smile at the rink.”
“Interlake Minor Hockey would like to offer our deepest condolences to the family, friends and teammates of McKenna Riley,” Riley’s home association wrote. “Losing a member of the hockey community is never easy, especially when they are so young, with a lifetime of experiences ahead of them. Rest in peace McKenna.”
So devastating when we lose someone in the hockey community – even more so when they are so young. I only met McKenna a few times, but I saw her on the ice much more. Such a passionate player & spirited person. You’ll be deeply missed. Thoughts & prayers to the Riley family ❤️ pic.twitter.com/D1C4U3sTjS
— Junior Night in MB 🏒🌌🌾 (@JuniorNightMB) December 16, 2020
The MFHL wants to pass on our sincere condolences to McKenna Riley's family, the Silvertips' players & coaches and the entire @mwjhlhky on this tragic loss. Our thoughts & prayers are with all of you. Cherish the wonderful memories. pic.twitter.com/kKrv96I5OT
— Manitoba Female Hockey League – U18 AAA (@MFHLU18AAA) December 16, 2020
The Manitoba Junior Hockey League would like to express our most sincere condolences to the family and friends of McKenna Riley. The hockey world mourns with you.
May McKenna Rest In Peace.
— #MJHLHockey (@mjhlhockey) December 16, 2020
Hockey Manitoba would like to offer our sincere condolences to the family, friends and teammates of McKenna Riley on her tragic passing. Rest in Peace McKenna.
— Hockey Manitoba (@hockeymanitoba) December 16, 2020