Connor Bedard joins Gretzky, Lemieux in Canadian World Juniors lore

Dec 29 2021, 6:33 pm

Connor Bedard has made World Juniors history, and the company is as elite as it gets. 

With his four-goal exploit in Canada’s 11-2 win over Austria yesterday, Bedard racked up a whole host of accolades that aren’t likely to be matched any time soon. 

He scored on consecutive shots 1:11 apart in the first period. Pretty standard stuff from Bedard — just the seventh player to play for Canada at the World Juniors as a 16-year-old, along with Wayne Gretzky (1978), Eric Lindros (1989), Jason Spezza (2000), Jay Bouwmeester (2000), Sidney Crosby (2004) and Connor McDavid (2014).

His third goal, a beautiful effort from the high slot, is the one that raised eyebrows though. 

With it, he became the youngest player ever to record a hat trick for Canada at the World Juniors. Gretzky, who did it twice in three days, is the only other 16-year-old to accomplish the feat. 

Gretzky was 16 years, 331 days old when he did it on December 23, 1977.

Bedard was 16 years, 164 days old. 

“It’s obviously pretty cool to hear your name with that guy,” Bedard said. “Whenever you get that honour it’s pretty crazy and surreal.

“It’s definitely cool just kind of hearing your name with one of, if not the greatest player to ever play the game. It’s just one game. I don’t think I’ll be getting 2,800 points in the NHL. It’s obviously cool though, to hear my name with his.”

But wait, there’s more. 

Bedard sniped again in the third period, a nifty redirect that doubled-down on the performance, to give him four goals on the night and tie Canada’s record for most goals in a single outing. 

The holder of that record? Lemieux. 

He was the first to do it in 1983, with the feat being matched by Simon Gagne in 1999, Brayden Schenn in 2010, Taylor Radish in 2016, and Maxime Comtois in 2018. 

Bedard, again, the youngest to do it.

Exceptional, from the exceptional status player.

The 16-year-old was also the seventh player to be granted exceptional status into the Canadian Hockey League in 2020, joining John Tavares (2005), Aaron Ekblad (2011), McDavid (2012), Sean Day (2013), Joe Veleno (2015), and Canada teammate Shane Wright (2019).

“I like the word exceptional status for players like him that come in,” Canada head coach Dave Cameron said. “He’s an exceptional player. 

“It’s been the number one question I’ve been asked since I’ve looked over this team and I’m sure it’s the number one question of anyone that coaches him is always asked about him. 

“But he’s earned that.”

He’s etched his name in the World Juniors record books, too. 

A well-earned effort. 

Aaron VickersAaron Vickers

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