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'It was an honour': Connor Bedard reflects on 3 seasons with Regina Pats

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All eyes in the hockey world have been on Regina for the past few months for one reason: Connor Bedard.

The 17-year-old forward racked up 71 goals and 143 points in 57 games in the 2022-23 season.

Technically, he could have years left in junior hockey, but that’s not expected to happen.

“He’s not coming back,” Regina Pats head coach and general manager John Paddock said, adding Bedard would fit nicely into an NHL line up right now.

As players packed up their belongings on their final day with the Pats Wednesday, Bedard said the end of a season is always challenging regardless of next steps.

“Obviously I’m not sure of the future or anything, so I’m just saying my thank yous to everyone, whether I’ll be back next year or not,” Bedard said.

“It’s always tough to leave the group of guys you were with all year.”

In three seasons with the team, Bedard said the recent playoff series with the Saskatoon Blades was the most memorable.

The Blades beat the Pats 4-1 in game seven on Monday night.

“Just playing in front of our crowd and feeling that energy and stuff,” he said.

“Overall, the community was just so supportive of us and of myself obviously. I’ve had so much fun in my last three years here.”

In addition to the seven game series, Bedard said his time in the city in general was a high point.

“The people are so nice and for me, I love it here. I’m super grateful that I got to play here,” he said.

“The people I got to play with and learn from have been so great.”

Despite so much attention on Bedard this season, he said he didn’t let it affect his performance on the ice.

“It changed nothing to be honest. That’s a lot of outside noise and for me, I was focused on what I can do in the room to help make us better and to try to play my best,” he said.

Being selected as captain of the Pats this season was a goal for the 17-year-old.

“It was an honour,” he said.

“It’s a pretty historic franchise and for me to be on that long list of captains was a dream of mine coming in. For me to be able to wear [the C] was pretty exciting. I didn’t take it for granted.”

Paddock said he’s seen Bedard grow both on and off the ice in his seasons with the Pats.

“It’s hard to describe. He was the best player even when he first came,” Paddock said.

“He’s just gotten better. And then he was always mature with how he was brought up, always a hard worker, but we really saw - especially the last half of the year - just a step in speaking up and speaking out, and in a way challenging us at different times.”

Now, Bedard will head home to British Columbia to catch up with friends and family before quickly resuming his training schedule as the NHL draft draws closer.

“The focus turns to training and getting better. For me, there’s definitely lots of areas to improve,” he said.

“It’s getting back in the gym and trying to get faster and stronger and whatnot. I think I have my specific goals, but right now I’m still thinking about the loss obviously.”

NHL Central Scouting projects Bedard to be the number one pick in the upcoming draft.

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