North Vancouver’s Connor Bedard will be the youngest player on the ice at the selection camp for Canada’s national junior hockey team this month, which is no surprise given the trajectory of his hockey career so far.
Bedard has already made history as the first-ever player to earn exceptional status early entry into the Western Hockey League, and last year as a “double under-ager” he helped Canada win gold at the under-18 world championship in Texas. He is looking to become the first 16-year-old to make Team Canada for the world juniors since Connor McDavid made the squad in 2013-'14.
Bedard is one of 35 invitees to the Team Canada camp which will be held Dec. 9-12 in Calgary, and the only player born in 2005. Burlington, Ont., native Shane Wright, who also starred for Canada at the U18 world championships, is the only 2004-born player invited to camp. More than half of the players on the camp roster are born in 2002.
“Growing up as a kid, you watch that tournament, but to just get the opportunity to go there and work my hardest to make the team is really special and a cool feeling,” Bedard stated in a release. Now in his second year with the Regina Pats, he has 11 goals and six assists in 21 games so far in the 2021-'22 WHL season. He was named the WHL rookie of the year following his first year in the league.
Bedard will be joined by several other B.C.-based players at the selection camp in Calgary, including forward Kent Johnson, a Port Moody native and North Shore Winter Club alumni who was selected fifth overall by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the 2021 NHL entry draft.
Other B.C. links include goaltender Dylan Garland (Victoria/Kamloops Blazers); defenceman Vincent Iorio (Coquitlam/Brandon Wheat Kings); and forwards Jack Finley (Kelowna/Spokane Chiefs); Justin Sourdif (Surrey/Vancouver Giants); and Logan Stankoven (Kamloops/Kamloops Blazers).
The 35 players at the selection camp will compete for 25 spots on Team Canada. A final roster announcement is expected Dec. 13. The 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship will be held at Rogers Place in Edmonton and the Peavey Mart Centrium in Red Deer from Dec. 26, 2021 to Jan. 5, 2022. Canada will open the tournament against the Czech Republic on Boxing Day, then complete the preliminary round with games against Austria on Dec. 28, Germany on Dec. 29, and Finland on Dec. 31.