Connor Bedard explodes in Canada’s youth world victory over Austria

EDMONTON Another game, another great offensive night for another budding Canadian hockey star.

Connor Bedard, Regina Pats’ 16-year-old hotshot, scored four goals in Canada’s 11-2 loss to Austria at the youth hockey world championships, an event that COVID-19 is beginning to have a direct impact on.

A game after defender Owen Power’s hat-trick propelled Canada’s 6-3 win over the Czechs, Bedard matched the feat naturally, three in a row, and then added one in a game where offense was predictably more. easy to get.

If you haven’t already, Bedard should become a household name for the nation’s hockey fans. He is the first 16-year-old to make Canada’s junior world entry since Connor McDavid in 2015. And his dominance on ice – skating, passing, shooting – is similar to McDavid’s, with Bedard destined to be the first overall pick in 2023. drought.

Bedard joins a small list of Canadians with four goals in a single youth world game: Mario Lemieux, Simon Gagne, Brayden Schenn, Taylor Raddysh and Maxime Comtois.

The tournament record for goals in a game is six by the Swede Ola Rosander in 1987 against Poland. Eight players, none Canadian, have scored five.

Bedard provided moments of magic in a game desperate for drama. The old line is that the game ended when they released the puck. But that could have been rewritten when Canada faced Austria on Tuesday night. The game was really over when the schedule came out.

There was never a doubt that Canada would defeat Austria. The only question was how much.

The offense came from all over the lineup. Canada got two goals from Mason McTavish and one from Cole Perfetti, Mavrik Bourque, Logan Stankoven, Lukas Cormier and Kent Johnson.

Austria, who only scored one goal last year, had two against Canada. The first was from Lukas Needany, gifted with an empty net when Canadian goalkeeper Brett Brochu took a walk, perhaps out of boredom, but failed to connect on a poke-check. The second came on a third-period power play by Mathias Bohm on a rebound.

Leon Sommer of Austria faced all 66 Canadian shots.

This was only the second time that Canada have faced Austria in the World Youth Championship. Canada won the first meeting 11-1 in 1981. This is Austria’s third appearance. They were here last year and stayed at the top tier because neither team dropped.

Canada now has six points with two regulation wins and faces Germany on Wednesday. The Germans have two points after two games, a win in extra time and a regulation loss.

COVID calls: The best that can be said about the Austrians is that they showed up. Bravely. And she had no COVID, although front row Senna Peeters missed her first match due to a positive test prior to the tournament. He was cleared to play against with two negative tests on Tuesday.

Earlier in the day, however, the Americans had to lose to Switzerland due to an outbreak in which two players tested positive and a few others in isolation as a precaution.

It was a reminder that the pandemic could hamper this annual tournament in the way that it has so many other aspects of sport and life in general. Tournament organizers were expecting more results from the defending gold medalists that could call into question their continued participation.

Glorified exhibition: Some will wonder why they even program these types of games, destined to be unbalanced. But the answer has more to do with the Habsburgs and other countries below the great hockey countries: Canada, Russia, the United States, Sweden, Finland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The minnows want to compare themselves with the best to see what they can do, how far they have to go.

Canadians use these games more as an exhibition, albeit one that counts in the rankings with personal stats that can be accumulated.

Coach Dave Cameron has been playing with his top line.

Shane Wright, who is expected to be the top pick in the NHL’s summer draft, has been the number one center with Winnipeg Jets prospect Perfetti on the left wing. Xavier Bourgault started the first game as the number one right winger, but was replaced as the game progressed by Bedard, who has clearly established himself as more than the thirteenth forward.

For Tuesday’s game, Bourgault was eliminated and Bourque moved up to the top line. In addition, Wright moved to wing and the more experienced Perfetti took over in center. It all seemed like part of a bigger plan for everyone to play with everyone else as each line got a little revamped.

“We are going to mix and match as we go through the first part of the tournament, so we can be ready when the games take on a little more meaning,” said Cameron.

Game preparation: Not that the Canadians weren’t expecting to play a lopsided game here and there. It seems to happen every year. Last year, Canada beat the Germans 16-2. So it’s almost to the point where Canadians know they have to do everything they can to get something out of unilateral affairs.

“Those kinds of games are when the character comes out,” Captain Kaiden Guhle said. “You want to continue generating good habits. Those kinds of games, when they become one-sided, bad habits can emerge. It is really important to keep your habits and keep playing the right way, and keep improving.

“We come in all the games and we see everyone as a good team. Every team has good players. We come to all the games with the same mentality. We do not regard any other team as less. We respect all teams. We never go into a game thinking of the teams less than we do ”.

Pros and cons: The Canadians scratched goalkeeper Sebastian Cossa for the second game in a row, and Bourgault for the first time … Stankoven and defender Ryan O’Rourke saw their first action … The Canadians were also left without striker Justin Sourdif, suspended one game for an illegal blow to the head of Czech defender Jiri Tchacek in the first match.

Fan fiction: Approximately 4,500 fans watched the first game at Rogers Place. About the same number was available for the second. Hockey Canada, limited to around 9,750 under COVID rules in Alberta, wasn’t that worried. It has also been particularly cold in Alberta, with -28 on Tuesday. And no food or drink is served on the sand.

“I don’t think the weather is conducive to going to hockey games and all that,” said Hockey Canada President Tom Renney. “It’s really about playing, keeping everyone safe, including the fans. And if, in your opinion, staying home and watching it on television is more to your liking, we understand. “

Relegated: The IIHF had already decided that no team would relegate in this tournament, but took it a step further Tuesday by canceling the relegation round entirely. The teams at the bottom of the table will be determined by ranking at the end of the preliminary round. Teams that finish at the bottom of each group have typically played best-of-three to survive. Next year, the tournament will feature 11 teams, and Belarus got the promotion before the spread of the Omicron variant.

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