Save it to Connor Bedard to put on a show when it truly matters the most.
With his Canadian mates facing elimination from the medal round of the 2023 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship, the 17-year-old goal-scoring phenom came through in the biggest of ways for not only his team but also his country.
“I don’t know if I ever thought I’d be in this tournament so to think about that and kind of put it in perspective like that is pretty cool,” the young Canadian said. “I’m not focused on personal success here. I want another gold medal and that’s all I want.”
Opening the scoring with a nifty move on a partial break early on in the first period, Bedard broke Jordan Eberle’s Canadian goal-scoring record of 16 world junior goals, as well as Eric Lindros’ points record (31) by a Canadian in the world juniors. He now has 21 points in this world juniors tournament, slightly off the pace of Peter Forsberg’s incredible record of 31 points.
Despite an offence-heavy performance, the Canadians actually had a tough time beating Slovakian netminder Adam Gajan, who made 53 saves on the night, but eventually surrendered the winner on what was a seemingly unstoppable net drive from non other than Connor Bedard.
CONNOR BEDARD SENDS CANADA TO THE SEMIS! #WorldJuniors pic.twitter.com/4s06UDY6oX
— TSN (@TSN_Sports) January 3, 2023
With the quarterfinal game knotted at threes through regulation, the Canadians and Slovaks headed to sudden-death overtime on Monday night, to which everyone in the arena took a backseat to Bedard, whose team clearly made it their goal to give him the puck. He scored the winner just moments into the frame, walking past three Slovaks en route to a fantastic finisher that will be replayed on Canadian screens for the better part of a lifetime.
“I couldn’t score on a shot so I kind of had to do something,” Bedard said. “To hear [the crowd], you kind of black out a bit. But even after the goal the crowd was so loud I thought I was going deaf or something. So, it was pretty nuts.”
For Canada, the win punches their ticket to the semifinal, to which the club will face off against North American rival USA, which earlier in the day beat Germany 11-1, setting up what will be one of the most memorable semifinals in recent memory.
Sweden will face off against Czechia in the other semifinal, as the winners will face off in the final later this week. Canada will play USA at 5:30 PM central time on Wednesday, while the final will be held the following day.