Montreal Canadiens prospect Riley Kidney has been doing his best to stick with an offseason regimen focused on gaining weight and muscle this summer but he’s also been just a tad bit busy preparing for his first foray playing for Hockey Canada at the continuation of the 2022 World Junior Championships. Kidney and fellow Canadiens prospect Joshua Roy will represent Canada when the tournament resumes in Alberta this Tuesday and the Halifax, Nova Scotia native couldn’t be more thrilled.
“To represent Canada at the World Juniors is really a dream come true,” Kidney told TSN in a recent interview. “I’m very proud, it’s amazing to be able to wear a Team Canada jersey and represent your country. I’m really looking forward to the experience.”
Kidney and Joshua Roy were not on the original invite list to Hockey Canada’s World Juniors camp last summer and that motivated him to play even harder and improve as much as he could this past season. Playing for the Sherbrooke Phoenix in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, Roy led the league in points with 119 and was tied for third in goals with 51 lamplighters. Kidney also played this past season in the QMJHL and finished right behind Roy in points with 100 and also lit the lamp 30 times.
“Probably a week before I got the call, my agent said I have a chance to make this team so that made me hit the gym and work even harder,” the Montreal Canadiens second round pick (63rd overall) from the 2021 NHL Draft said. “Then I finally got the call and I was super-happy. It was a dream come true. For me, when I didn’t get invited there, I just wanted to work super hard to prove to Hockey Canada that I’m good enough to play here. Next year in Halifax, that’s my year, that’s my hometown so I want to prove that I’m good enough to play here and play in that tournament.”
So what’s been different for the future Montreal Canadiens centre?
“For me personally, i think just stepping up my game and playing with more confidence,” Kidney said. “Me and my linemates work well together. We had good chemistry. So I just think I I improved my overall game. I got faster and I think just overall confidence with the puck and more confidence making plays so that helped me a lot. I think just being older in the league. Being an 18-year-old is easier than being a 16-year-old or 17-year-old in the league. So I think that’s the biggest thing, having experience and just like I said, great linemates too. It makes it a lot easier and it’s fun.”
Kidney knows that he will need to play a more complete game for Hockey Canada and eventually, hopefully for the Montreal Canadiens.
“I think I can just bring my game,” Kidney said. “I’m an offensive centreman but here, I know I need to play a 200-foot game; good defense and just do whatever it takes to help the team win a gold medal,” the 19-year-old Montreal Canadiens prospect said.
After the World Juniors, Kidney will go back to doing what the Montreal Canadiens have asked him to do.
“They just told me I need to get bigger and stronger, which I already know and I’m working hard on that this summer in training” Kidney said. “The biggest thing is just getting bigger and stronger off the ice and if I do that off the ice, it will help me on the ice. This summer’s been pretty busy so it’s been hard gaining weight and going to the gym but every chance I get, I’m working super hard and doing as much as I can to gain weight. I’ve gained quite a few pounds (eight pounds) since I’ve been home so my summer’s been successful so far and I need to just keep going.”