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Bedard's seven points helps Canada get back on track at world juniors

HALIFAX — Canada needed a response after a miserable 48 hours. Connor Bedard — as he's done so often in his young career — delivered with lethal precision.
Canada's Connor Bedard scores his third goal of the game during second period IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship action against Germany in Halifax on Wednesday, December 28, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese

HALIFAX — Canada needed a response after a miserable 48 hours.

Connor Bedard — as he's done so often in his young career — delivered with lethal precision.

The 17-year-old phenom had a hat trick and four assists Wednesday as the host county got back on track at the world junior hockey championship with an emphatic 11-2 victory over Germany.

"Unbelievable game," Canadian captain Shane Wright said. "Pretty crazy what he's doing out there. Special night."

It certainly was.

Bedard's seven-point performance tied a single-game Canadian record on an evening the favourites at the men's under-20 showcase needed a response following Monday’s embarrassing 5-2 loss to Czechia.

"It's cool," the presumptive No. 1 pick at the 2023 NHL draft said of joining Dave Andreychuk (1983), Brenden Morrow (1999), Mike Cammalleri (2002) and Gabriel Bourque (2010) on Canada's seven-point list. "But that's not a huge deal for me. It's good to get the win. 

"I got a couple of pretty lucky ones. Just one of those nights."

Bedard now has 12 goals all-time at the world juniors, two back of Jordan Eberle's national record.

"I'll text him saying he's got a guy on his heels," Wright said of Eberle, his teammate with the NHL's Seattle Kraken. "Don't think we'll be focused on that a lot, but it's gonna be special if he hits those along the way."

"He was on fire … shot was unreal," Canadian head coach Dennis Williams added of Bedard. "His creativity and his poise … a great night. 

"He led the way."

Dylan Guenther also had a hat trick — all off Bedard passes — while Logan Stankoven added a goal and two assists. 

Wright, Brandt Clarke and Joshua Roy, with a goal and an assist each, and Zack Ostapchuk also scored.

Olen Zellweger chipped in with three assists as Williams shook up three of his forward lines — including splitting up Bedard and Wright — after a disconnected and disjointed effort against the Czechs.

"We came much more determined," said the coach. "Played tighter as a group."

Thomas Milic made 14 saves in his first world junior start for Canada. Roman Kechter and Philip Sinn had the goals for Germany, which got 30 stops from Simon Wolf before he was replaced by Rihards Babulis for the third period in a mercy pull. Babulis finished with 11 saves.

"We were pretty hungry," Bedard said. "That was a huge way to come back."

Canada, which improved to 16-0 all-time against the Germans, will now quickly pivot to face Austria — outscored 20-0 through its two tournament games — Thursday back at Scotiabank Centre.

Coming off a 1-0 defeat Tuesday to Sweden, Germany is off Thursday before a Friday meeting with Austria.

A talent-rich team loaded with nine first-round NHL draft picks, plus Bedard and fellow high-end prospect Adam Fantilli, Canada was stunned by the Czechs in an uninspired curtain-raiser that left the powerhouse nation searching for answers.

That included players questioning their own readiness and preparation, while Fantilli and Bedard each attempted and failed "The Michigan" lacrosse-style move early — sequences viewed afterwards as symptomatic of the Canadians' loose approach against an underdog opponent.

There would be no repeat.

"We didn't change our game based on what the score was," Guenther said. "I love that … that was awesome."

The Arizona Coyotes forward opened things on a power play in the first period off a Bedard feed before Ketcher snapped a shot through Milic.

Wright was credited with his second goal of the tournament on another man advantage when a German defender swept the puck into his own net.

Bedard, who had four goals in an 11-2 victory over Austria one year ago to the day before that tournament was shelved by COVID-19, made it 3-1 when he took a stretch pass and ripped a shot past Wolf, and got another early in the second on a goaltending miscue.

"We were a lot more focused," Wright said. "We knew we had to respond after last game's effort."

Wright said Bedard could probably put up a couple points a night in the NHL right now.

"Incredible," said the No. 4 pick at the 2022 draft. "Haven't seen many individual performances like that. Pretty special."

Added Guenther: "He's gonna be an impact player there, I assume, right away."

Bedard roofed his hat-trick goal on another power play through a screen before Rayan Bettahar was assessed a match penalty and ejected for an illegal check to the head on Fantilli.

That's when the floodgates really opened.

Guenther scored his second on a slick Bedard feed to make it 6-1 and Clarke blasted a one-timer off a German defender.

Bedard then set up Guenther for his third on the same man advantage and Stankoven added another late in the period for a 9-1 lead through 40 minutes.

Ostapchuk made it 10-1 early in the third before Bedard assisted on Roy's goal for his seventh point of the evening.

Sinn got a late consolation goal on a German power play to close out a night that saw Canada recalibrate after an uncomfortable two days.

"That's how we play hockey,” Wright said. "All three periods — all 60 minutes — that was Team Canada hockey. We were expecting a bounce-back game and that's exactly we got. 

"Really proud of our effort."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 28, 2022.


Follow @JClipperton_CP on Twitter.

Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press

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