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Nova Scotia

Connor Bedard puts on another show, Canada thumps Austria at world juniors | NanaimoNewsNOW

“And obviously trying to contribute.”

The putative first pick in the 2023 NHL draft does the job with murderous precision – including a goal against the Austrians from an impossible angle.

“Phenomenal,” said Canada forward Adam Fantilli. “What he does is so special and the way he does it is amazing.

“Absolutely nothing but a smile for him right now.”

Bedard has six goals in three games, equaling Jordan Eberle’s Canadian record of 14 goals in the men’s U20 event, and his 27 total points in the junior world champions is just four points shy of Eric Lindros’ national record.

“His ability to score goals is among the best I’ve seen,” said captain Shane Wright. “He’s always creative with how he shoots the puck and where he can release it.

“Very impressive.”

The North Vancouver, BC native’s seven points in Wednesday’s 11-2 win over Germany was also among four more points by a Maple Leaf player at the tournament.

Bedard leads the junior world with 14 points – seven more than linesmate Logan Stankoven, who sits in 2nd.

“I’m just enjoying my time on the bench and watching him play,” said Canada forward Nathan Gaucher with a laugh. “Unbelievable.”

Stankoven added a goal and three assists on Thursday, while Gaucher and Joshua Roy each scored and provided two more. Fantilli provided the rest of the offense with a goal and an assist, Wright, Dylan Guenther, Zach Dean, Nolan Allan and Tyson Hinds.

Benjamin Gaudreau made 12 saves for the shutout.

Benedikt Oschgan stopped 36 shots for the overwhelmed Austrians, who were outplayed 31-0 in their three games.

“The result is what it is, but I couldn’t be prouder of the group,” said Nova Scotia-born head coach Kirk Furey, whose mostly nameless roster held a strong opponent in one fell swoop in the first 14 minutes of the game. “We ended up giving up an odd rush against a team with…everyone.”

Canada were embarrassed 5-2 by the Czech Republic in Monday’s opening game before bouncing back with that emphatic win over Germany.

Sweden leads Group A with eight points, followed by the Czechs with seven and Canada’s six with one game left each.

The Canadians meet the Swedes on New Year’s Eve, while the Czech Republic – the country commonly known as the Czech Republic – meets the Germans.

Bedard scored four goals against Austria in an 11-2 triumph in Edmonton a year ago before those world juniors were put on hold until August due to COVID-19 outbreaks.

The Austrians lost 11-0 in their opening game against Sweden before conceding a 9-0 decision against the Czech Republic on Tuesday, but gave full points for their opener on Thursday.

A roster with nine first-round NHL draft picks plus top 2023 prospects Bedard and Fantilli, Canada had a tentative opener against the European lightweights.

“We came out a little sluggish and a little careless with the puck,” head coach Dennis Williams said. “They are a hard working team, they are a disciplined team. They stayed within the points, we didn’t want to go inside the points.

“We wanted to play on the outer rim and if you’re not willing to get there and put pucks and traffic through that’s what happens.”

The Canadians then went on their first power play and never looked back.

Günther scored a hat-trick against Germany – all without a Bedard feed – and got things going after a no-look pass from Brennan Othmann.

Dean grabbed his first of the tournament before Wright scored his third, taking another man advantage from a Bedard setup for a 3-0 lead over 20 minutes.

“We had a good conversation between the first and second – we asserted our game, our style of play,” said Gaucher. “We were a little too soft.”

Roy scored his second goal after the restart before Bedard, who had scored three goals against Germany, worked on another highlight as he covered an upward shot that had to be confirmed by video review.

“I’ve seen him do that so many times,” Fantilli said. “He’s pretty automatic with it.”

Bedard knew immediately the puck was in.

“It was kind of weird,” he said. “Everyone kind of stopped playing. I think they knew they would check it out.”

Allan made it 6-0 and Stankoven narrowly added his second in another sequence that required video review.

Fantilli scored his first goal on a power play early in the third to extend Canada’s lead to 8-0.

“You shouldn’t start slow,” Bedard said. “But to be able to turn it around like we did… I thought in the second and third games we played a lot harder.

“We played a lot more with our system.”

Gaucher added his first before Bedard bagged his sixth and 14th overall in a game where Stankoven pushed the puck forward to his diving linemate in an offensive zone faceoff. Hinds then finished the escape with his first scramble.

But the night – just like 24 hours before – belonged to Bedard.

“He’s just in another world,” Furey said. “It’s a very special moment to be behind the bench while he’s on the ice and for our players to experience that.

“Because they will never have that experience again.”

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on December 29, 2022.


Follow @JClipperton_CP on Twitter.

Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press

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