Connor Bedard has joined another elite list.
After being the first player in WHL history to be granted exceptional status, the Regina Pats forward just recently became the seventh player to be named to Team Canada’s world junior team as a 16-year-old, joining the likes of Wayne Gretzky (1978), Eric Lindros (1989), Jason Spezza (2000), Jay Bouwmeester (2000), Sidney Crosby (2004) and most recently Connor McDavid (2014).
“It’s pretty special,” said Bedard. “Growing up watching the tournament and then finding out you made the team is definitely a dream come true.”
After being invited to selection camp, Bedard made it hard for Team Canada brass to leave him off the roster after his performance over the four-day tryout. The North Vancouver, B.C., product led Canada in scoring with two goals and four assists in two exhibition games against the USPORTS all-stars.
“I was happy with my camp,” said Bedard, who put up 24 points in 24 games with the Pats prior to leaving to selection camp. “Going in, I didn’t really know what to expect. Obviously, you want to make the team, but there’s so much talent that you don’t really know.
“I don’t know if stressful is the word, but you’re sitting there waiting and obviously a little nervous. To finally find out and know that you’ll be able to play on the team was pretty cool.”
Read more: Canadian World Junior camp moves to Banff
Now as Canada tries to improve on last year’s silver medal, Bedard is willing to adapt to any role he is asked to fill in the tournament.
“Whether you’re the 13th forward or on the first line, you’re still happy to represent your country,” said Bedard. “For me, whenever I’m put out there and have a chance to make a difference, obviously I’ll try my hardest to do that.”
Team Canada opens the tournament on Boxing Day against the Czech Republic. The gold medal game is set for Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2022.