Within the 18 years previous to this season that Hockey Canada has despatched a crew to the World Below-18 Championship, just one participant had performed within the match previous to celebrating his 16th birthday. That participant was John Tavares. And there have solely been two gamers who would qualify for what Hockey Canada calls “double underagers.” These gamers are Tavares and Connor McDavid.
That membership is about to get rather less unique when the puck drops for Canada’s tournament-opening recreation towards Sweden early subsequent week. That’s as a result of Connor Bedard, who doesn’t flip 16 till July, will likely be within the lineup for Canada. And in the event you’re a fan of Canada’s nationwide groups, you may wish to get used to seeing this younger man carrying his nation’s colours, as a result of he’ll be doing it for a very long time.
Will probably be attention-grabbing to see what Bedard can accomplish towards the very best draft-eligible gamers on this planet. We’ve already seen what he can do towards gamers who’re as much as 5 years his senior within the Western League, the place he led the league in scoring with 12 objectives and 28 factors in simply 15 video games earlier than going into quarantine to organize for the Worlds. Canada has 14 forwards, 10 of whom are listed as facilities. So Hockey Canada requested the Regina Pats to play Bedard on the wing for 2 video games to assist him modify to what’s going to possible be a change of place for the match. All he did in these two video games was rating 4 objectives and 6 factors – on the eight objectives the Pats scored in these video games – together with an extra time winner, which he scored simply days after studying his grandfather had been killed in a automotive accident.
To have a rustic with the large participant pool Canada possesses placing a 15-year-old on an under-18 crew is nothing in need of outstanding. However Berard has been a outstanding participant for fairly a while now. He’s definitely an distinctive one, as evidenced by him turning into the primary participant in WHL historical past to achieve distinctive participant standing from Hockey Canada. He’s monitoring with the very best gamers to ever play the sport primarily based on the small pattern measurement he supplied in his first 15 video games within the WHL. Not that Bedard nor anybody from his household will inform you.
“I don’t wish to inform individuals what I’m doing,” Bedard instructed TheHockeyNews.com. “I don’t actually get pleasure from bragging about myself. I’d slightly rejoice different individuals’s success. If my buddy is doing effectively, I’ll form of discuss that, pump him up a bit. For that type of stuff, staying grounded is fairly necessary.”
It’s refreshing to see a participant like Bedard, one which has otherworldly expertise, however nearly appears obliviously unaware of them. In reality, regardless of the very fact he’s been an elite participant for years, Bedard didn’t even know Canada had an under-18 crew or that the Below-18 World Championship even existed till the day earlier than he was knowledgeable he was going to be on the crew.
“I’ve a buddy on Kamloops and he despatched me one thing about Logan (Stankoven) as a result of he was going to go away (for the match),” Bedard mentioned. “It was a tweet about how Kamloops was going to lose Stankoven for the remainder of the 12 months due to this and that was the primary time I had ever heard of it. The subsequent morning I acquired a cellphone name about making the crew, so it was positively an actual shock for me.”
This will likely be Bedard’s first time carrying Canada’s colours. The loopy factor is he’ll be eligible to play in two extra of those tournaments earlier than he’s drafted in 2023, however he and the Pats are relying on being busy within the playoffs the following two seasons. It could shock no one if Bedard was not solely part of the 2022 World Junior crew, however a significant contributor. He’s that good.
“Clearly, that is the very best of the very best, so it’s going to be enjoyable to play towards and play with (these gamers),” Bedard mentioned. “There may be positively lots I’m excited for. I’ve by no means been to Texas and by no means performed for Hockey Canada, so it’s going to be a fairly cool expertise.”
Would Hockey Canada ever take into account bringing a 15-year-old participant to the boys’s World Championship? Virtually definitely not, however wouldn’t that be attention-grabbing? All of the nationwide federations are going to have bother getting NHL gamers to play on this 12 months’s match, which is because of begin Could 21 in Latvia. So why not load up on junior and school gamers to present them the expertise and see what occurs? In all probability received’t occur, however you may at all times dream.