Connor Bedard named MVP as Canada wins gold at world juniors

Connor Bedard named MVP as Canada wins gold at world juniors

The North Vancouver native won back-to-back golds with Canada and became the country’s career leader in points and goals scored at the tournament

A record-breaking world junior hockey tournament for North Vancouver’s Connor Bedard ended in MVP honors and a second straight gold medal as Canada clinched a thrilling 3-2 overtime win over the Czech Republic in Halifax on Thursday.

The Canadians opened the tournament on Boxing Day with a 5-2 loss to the same Czech team, but they didn’t let themselves be beaten again, raking in six straight wins to clinch gold.

Dylan Günther was the hero of the final, scoring two goals and an assist, including the winner in extra time. Guenther and Shane Wright took an early lead as Canada forged a 2-0 lead. Coquitlam’s Thomas Milic was again strong in the net after his dominant display against the United States in a 6-2 semi-final win.

But the Czechs stunned the home crowd in the third period by scoring two goals less than a minute apart to level the game and sent it into extra time. That set Guenther to claim the win by bringing the winner home after a cross-ice pass from Joshua Roy.

Bedard has made headlines throughout the tournament, starting with a seven-point game against Germany, a hat-trick and four assists to break a Canadian record. This was followed by a six-point performance against Austria, then added four assists in a New Year’s Eve win over Sweden

His exploits reached new heights in the play-off round as Bedard scored twice and provided an assist in a 4-3 overtime win against Slovakia. Bedard’s big night included an instant classic winner in overtime. The 17-year-old danced past two defenders before passing Slovakia goalkeeper Adam Gajan and netting the puck to send Canada through to the semis. That night, Bedard also set Team Canada records for career points and assists at the tournament.

Bedard was named the Tournament’s Top Forward, Tournament All-Star, and Tournament MVP after the Finals. He finished the tournament with nine goals, 13 assists and 23 points, setting new Canadian records for points and assists in a junior world. He finished nine points ahead of Logan Cooley of the USA, who finished second in the tournament with 14 points.

Could it have been someone else?

9⃣ goals
1⃣4⃣ Assists (new 🇨🇦 record)
2⃣3⃣ points (new 🇨🇦 record)

Connor Bedard is your #WorldJuniors MVP (+ Top Forward and Media All-Star ⭐️).

— Hockey Canada (@HockeyCanada) January 6, 2023

However, Bedard was not interested in his personal accolades.

“I don’t want to talk about myself right now,” he said in a TSN On Ice interview shortly after the final goal. “We’re not talking about me. We just won the biggest tournament in the world. And man I love this group; I love this country.”

Others across the country, however, have been more forthcoming with their praise. Bedard’s performance en route to the finals was so impressive that it spawned a cheeky campaign aimed at changing the name from Burrard Inlet to Bedard Inlet.

Bedard burst into the national limelight when he became the first player ever to achieve exceptional status early in the WHL, and since then he has exceeded all expectations placed upon him by that label. He is now returning to the Regina Pats of the Western Hockey League. He’s qualified for this summer’s NHL Entry Draft and is the big favorite to be selected first overall.

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