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Bedard earns consideration, rave opinions at CHL

LANGLEY, British Columbia — Connor Bedard was the center of attention during the 2023 CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game at Langley Events Centre on Wednesday.The 17-year-old forward with Regina of the Western Hockey League, and projected No. 1 pick in the 2023 Upper Deck NHL Draft, had a bit of a home-ice advantage. He grew up

Bedard earns consideration, rave opinions at CHL

LANGLEY, British Columbia — Connor Bedard was the focus through the 2023 CHL/NHL Prime Prospects Sport at Langley Occasions Centre on Wednesday.

The 17-year-old ahead with Regina of the Western Hockey League, and projected No. 1 choose within the 2023 Higher Deck NHL Draft, had a little bit of a home-ice benefit. He grew up about half-hour away in North Vancouver.

“I will have quantity of individuals there,” Bedard mentioned earlier than the sport. “I feel some family members. Clearly, my sister, my dad and mom and a few buddies for positive. I ought to have an honest crowd.”

Tom Bedard, Connor’s father, was relishing the uncommon probability to see his son in particular person; Regina is a 20-hour drive.

“My spouse (Melanie) really is in Regina with Connor, so she will get to go to a couple extra video games,” Tom mentioned. “I get out 5 – 6 instances a 12 months however it’s troublesome. It is good to have issues near house.”

It was present for household and buddies. Bedard had a game-high six pictures on purpose for Group Crimson in a 4-2 loss to Group White.

The one individuals watching Bedard as intently as his household was the opposition.

“Retaining him off the scoreboard, that was form of a workforce purpose,” Group White goalie Scott Ratzlaff mentioned. “Simply ensuring he is all the time lined, ensuring we have eyes on him. It was good.”

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There was a good quantity of bodily play geared toward Bedard, together with Group White defenseman Lukas Dragicevic taking a cross-checking penalty towards him 20 seconds into the primary interval. Bedard additionally had a game-long, trash-talking dialog with Group White defenseman Oliver Bonk.

The frustration led to Bedard taking a penalty for cross-checking Bonk at 16:30 of the third. Bonk mentioned the back-and-forth wasn’t something malicious, extra concerning the respect for Bedard’s potential to take over a sport.

“He is one of the best [2005-born player] on the planet proper now,” Bonk mentioned. “It was good to get him off the ice for 2 minutes for our guys.”

Bedard (5-foot-10, 185 kilos) is used to bodily play and will not draw back from it. He was a presence in entrance of Group White’s purpose on most of his shifts and had no downside battling in all areas of the ice.

“It is hockey,” Bedard mentioned. “It is aggressive and also you’re allowed to hit so you have all the time obtained to count on that. It is a contact sport and you are going to get hit and you are going to give hits. That is a part of it and it was good.”

Regardless of the bodily play, Bedard nonetheless displayed his game-breaking potential. With Group Crimson on the facility play within the first interval, he wheeled via the excessive slot and fired a shot on web that Ratzlaff saved. Halfway via the second, Ratzlaff needed to make a spectacular pad save to cease Bedard on the web on a give-and-go with Zach Benson.

“The goalies performed effectively and clearly it could have been good to see a number of go in, however it did not occur,” Bedard mentioned.

Ratzlaff additionally performs within the WHL, for Seattle. Although it was his first time going through Bedard in a sport, he is aware of precisely what he is able to doing.

“He is simply so dynamic, and he is simply good from wherever,” Ratzlaff mentioned. “You assume, ‘Oh, I’ve obtained to commit as a result of he will shoot,’ after which he makes a go backdoor proper on the man’s tape. So, I feel simply being prepared for something as a result of he is simply so good and simply affected person with the puck so he can actually create, flip nothing into one thing.”

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Bedard mentioned his focus now returns to Regina, the place he leads the WHL in objectives (39), assists (42) and factors (81). Since being held off the rating sheet within the season opener, he has some extent in 32 straight video games. He is No. 1 in NHL Central Scouting’s midterm rating of North American gamers offered by BioSteel and nearly a certainty to listen to his identify known as first on the 2023 draft at Bridgestone Area in Nashville on June 28.

“Whenever you look, you’ll be able to see his similarities along with his quickness, offensive smarts, that go as much as the Connor McDavid degree, however then simply the pure substance and total make-up of his sport is harking back to Sidney Crosby,” mentioned Dan Marr, vice chairman of Central Scouting. “He is proper up there with these gamers which can be going to be all stars and win numerous {hardware} transferring ahead.”

Bedard has mentioned the draft is one thing he’ll fear about down the street. Now that each one the eye from the Prime Prospects Sport has handed, he is centered on serving to Regina attain the WHL playoffs.

“I wish to win in Regina,” he mentioned. “We have been taking part in effectively of late, [won] 4 of the final 5, so we wish to preserve that going and I am excited to get again and get to work.”

Hear: New episode of NHL Draft Class

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