While a lot of the talk in the early days of the 2022 World Junior Hockey Championship has been around top 2023 NHL Draft prospect Matvei Michkov from Russia, Connor Bedard used a game against Austria to show why he is also a top prospect for that draft.
Bedard became the youngest Canadian player to score four goals in a game at the World Juniors, and the 16-year-old could have had even more in Canada’s 11-2 win over Austria on Tuesday night.
“Most of those I was just in front of the net, getting the stick on something,” Bedard said “Everyone makes the game easy when you’re here playing with these guys. It was a good game for our team and I was lucky to get those goals.”
“It’s a short tournament so you want to get used to it pretty quick, but it’s only the second game so we have a long way to go and we’re going to want to get better every game,” Bedard said.
“It’s pretty special,” said Elliot Desnoyers, who assisted on three of Bedard’s goals and had a great chance at the end of the game off the Bedard pass. “I find it funny how he doesn’t react when he scores. He just acts normal.”
Some of his nicest plays didn’t even end up in the back of the net.
Connor Bedard almost got a sweet assist near the end of the game! pic.twitter.com/OLpwKSL2va— TSN (@TSN_Sports) December 29, 2021
The last 16-year-old to get at least three goals in a game for Canada at the World Juniors was Wayne Gretzky.
“It’s obviously pretty cool to hear your name with that guy,” Bedard said. “But it’s the second game of the tournament so I’m trying not to get too high on myself.”
“You can’t be an exceptional player without having a high hockey IQ and Connor has that,” Canada coach Dave Cameron said after the game.
Cameron said before the tournament that he wanted improvement from Bedard away from the puck and says that he has seen improvement on that end of the ice as well.
Kent Johnson opened the scoring on the power play 5:08 into the game on a one-timer past Austrian goaltender Leon Sommer. Lukas Cormier doubled the lead 55 seconds later. Logan Stankoven made it 3-0 before Bedard scored two goals in 1:11 at the end of the first period.
Bedard scored his third to open the second period scoring, giving him a natural hat trick. Austria got on the board and made the score 6-1 when Lukas Necesany scored on Brett Brochu, who was making his first start for Canada.
Cole Perfetti scored to make it 7-1 in the third period before Bedard made it 8-1. Mason McTavish then scored two straight goals, before Mavrik Bourque scored Canada’s 11th goal.
Austria made it 11-2 on the power play when Mathias Bohm scored.
Canada outshot Austria 64-22. Sommer made 53 saves, while Brochu made 20.
Montreal Canadiens prospect Kaiden Guhle had an assist, was on the ice for five Canada goals in 16:38 of ice-time and was a +4 on the night. Canada coach Dave Cameron used all of his bench pretty evenly in this one as the team prepares to play Germany on Wednesday before facing Finland on New Year’s Eve.