To the surprise of no one, North Vancouver hockey phenom Connor Bedard was one of the 22 players named to Team Canada this week for the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championships scheduled for Dec. 26-Jan. 5 in Halifax, N.S. and Moncton, N.B.
Bedard is one of eight players returning from the Canada squad that won world juniors gold in Edmonton in August, playing some rare summer hockey after the 2022 event was cancelled mid-tournament last December due to COVID-19 concerns.
Bedard scored four goals and four assists for eight points in seven games as Team Canada went on to defeat Finland 3-2 in a thrilling overtime championship final in August.
The 2023 event will begin with four games on Boxing Day, including Canada against Czechia. The Canadians will then face Germany on Dec. 28 and Austria on Dec. 29 before wrapping up opening round play with a New Year’s Eve game against Sweden.
The tournament bronze and gold medal games are scheduled for Jan. 5 in Halifax.
Bedard will no doubt be in the spotlight at the tournament as he is widely regarded as the favourite to be the first overall pick in the 2023 NHL entry draft.
The 17-year-old, the first ever player to earn exceptional status early entry into the Western Hockey League, is running away with the WHL scoring race so far this season, topping the league in goals with 27 and assists with 37, giving him 64 points in 28 games for the Regina Pats as of Dec. 13.