Connor Bedard shows his skills on an international stage
REGINA -- Regina Pats forward Connor Bedard is proving why he’s one of the most talented young hockey players in the world, at the Under 18 World Hockey Championship in Texas.
The 15-year-old has helped Canada finish the preliminary round with a 4-0 record.
“Probably the most skilled hockey I’ve played with just everyone being top end players from their country so it’s a lot of fun,” Bedard said from his hotel room on Sunday.
The forward from North Vancouver is the youngest to make the squad since Connor McDavid in 2013. Bedard has four points in four games (1G, 3A) and scored his first goal against Switzerland on Friday.
“I’ve had probably almost five shots on net a game so I was getting pretty frustrated there not putting one in so kinda being able to get that one was a big relief,” Bedard said.
Canada’s closest game of the tournament thus far came against Latvia (0-4). In the contest, head coach Dave Barr gave the young WHL prodigy major responsibility, as Canada was leading just 2-1 heading into the final frame.
“I went to him at the beginning of the third period and said I’d like to play you every second shift can you handle that?” Barr said. “He (Bedard) said oh yeah coach I can. So for the most part I gave him a lot of ice time in the third and he came through and played very well.”
Canada beat Latvia 4-2. In the winning effort, Bedard finished with two assists.
“In that game being able to be trusted in the third period in a tight hockey game was really exciting for me,” Bedard said.
“Bedard I thought was playing a whale of a game. Offensively, puck control, wasn’t throwing pucks away. Was creating a lot of offense on his own,” Barr added.
Bedard primarily played center with the Regina Pats, but has switched between left and ring wing with Team Canada.
“Playing different positions and not going in as a top guy on the team, so trying to just earn your coaches trust and earn your ice time is something I’ve really been trying to do,” Bedard said.
Bedard left Regina’s WHL East Division hub as the league’s points leader, with 28 points (12G, 16A) in 15 games. He went straight from Regina into self-isolation for the U18 World’s in Texas.
Meaning, Bedard has been in a bubble for almost two months. He’s relying on comforts from home and packed a lot of snacks.
“Granola bars and stuff like that is pretty huge. I think I’ve had more of those in the past two months than the rest of my life,” Bedard laughed.
Canada remains the only undefeated team in the tournament entering the playoffs and plays the Czech Republic (1-0-1-2) in the quarterfinals on Monday.
“Everyone’s excited to play the Czenchs tomorrow and try to win that game and obviously everyone here is a really high end player and they all care about hockey,” Bedard said.
Canada is trying to capture their first gold at the U18’s since 2013.