IIHF World Junior Recap—The Connor Bedard Show
The IIHF World Junior Championship took place in Halifax and Moncton, Nova Scotia this year and the atmosphere in both cities was unbelievable just like the talent on the ice.
This year the tournament featured Canada, United States, Finland, Sweden, Czechia, Slovakia, Germany, Latvia, Austria and Switzerland.
17-year-old Connor Bedard showcased to the world why he should be the consensus first pick in this year's NHL draft after he took over the entire tournament night after night.
Preliminary Round and Relegation
Every team played four games in the preliminary round, the games were all against the teams in your group. Group A featured: Czechia, Canada, Sweden, Germany and Austria. Group B featured: United States, Finland, Slovakia, Switzerland and Latvia.
The preliminary round of the 2023 tournament opened with a shocking start when Switzerland upset Finland in the opening game of the tournament. Opening day ended with a Boxing Day blunder from host nation Canada after they were beaten by Czechia.
The rest of the games in the preliminary round were won by the favorite except for an upset by Slovakia after they defeated the United States.
Bedard amassed 18 points in the four games having six goals and 12 assists to create the total. He shined amongst all the other young stars at the tournament, turning every game into his own circus act bringing fans to their feet every time he touched the puck.
The first quarterfinal game between Finland and Sweden ended in a 3-2 Swedish victory. The second quarterfinal game between Czechia and Switzerland ended in a 9-1 Czechia win. Game number three was between the United States and Germany, USA won 11-1. Battle number four was between Canada and Slovakia. Canada won 4-3 in overtime.
At this point, Bedard had 21 points in five games leading the tournament by a landslide.
The first semifinal matchup featured Czechia and Sweden. The Czechs defeated Sweden 2-1 in overtime to move onto the gold medal game.
The second semifinal matchup was between the USA and Canada. Canada edged out the United States 6-2 and cemented their spot in the final.
Bedard had a goal and an assist in the game bringing his total to 23 points in six games.
The battle for bronze opened up the medal round, and the game was a faceoff between Sweden and USA.
In just under three minutes, Logan Cooley opened up the scoring, and that was all the scoring there was in the period riddled with penalty after penalty. After one period it looked like it would be a low scoring tight battle between the two skilled teams, but the scoring prevailed as bodies and brains were tired seven games into the tournament.
Once again the United States found the back of the net early in a period after Ryan Ufko opened the second period scoring. Filip Bystedt answered the USA goal with one of his own for the Swedes a couple minutes later.
Chaz Lucius scored to give the United States a 3-1 lead, but Oskar Pettersson scored 91 seconds later to bring the game back to a one tally difference. Two minutes later Leo Carlsson scored for Sweden tying the game at 3-3.
Cutter Gauthier and Lucius scored just three minutes apart to give the United States a 5-3 lead and plenty of momentum. The pesky Swedes would not stop fighting and scored two goals 26 seconds apart to even the score at five. Carlsson and Liam Ohgren scored a pair of goals for the Swedish side.
Period three started with a goalie change for the United States. Trey Augustine was taken out of his net and replaced by Kaidan Mbereko. That is not the only thing that changed, Sweden opened the scoring in the third thanks to a Noah Ostlund goal.
American captain Luke Hughes evened the scoring four minutes later with a goal from his knees. The deadlock was snapped when Gauthier scored his second of the game for the United States. With just 22 seconds remaining in the game Bystedt evened the game up forcing overtime.
Winnipeg Jets prospect Chaz Lucius scored the game winner capping off his hat trick performance with a bronze medal for the United States.
The high scoring bronze medal game laid a solid foundation for the ensuing gold medal contest between Canada and Czechia.
Each team started the first period with a penalty, but one team took advantage when the other didn’t. Dylan Guenther opened the scoring for Canada in period number one with a powerplay goal. It was the only goal of the tight checking first period.
Period two was almost a carbon copy of the first one. Shane Wright scored the lone goal of the period for Canada. Two penalties were assessed to the host nation and one was assessed to the Swedes in the second.
Excitement ramped up in Halifax as the third period aged along. The crowd was loud and Canadian fans were proud. Czechia the Cinderella crew finally found the back of the net after a Jiri Kulich goal with seven and a half minutes left in the third period. Jakub Kos scored 54 seconds later, evening the score in the game.
The second of the two medal round games was headed to overtime as well.
The overtime period was full of action for both sides and as time began to dwindle along, every moment became more and more important for both teams. Six minutes and twenty-two seconds into the overtime frame the nervous energy turned into excitement for one side and heartbreak for the other.
Dylan Guenther, who opened the scoring, scored the golden goal for the host nation Canada. Halifax erupted with excitement and the Canadians won back to back World Juniors on home ice. The Czechia Cinderella story ended sadly after the Guenther goal.
Connor Bedard ended the tourney with nine goals, fourteen assists and twenty-three points. Breaking the single tournament Canadian point record along with many more records in the seven games of hockey.
Players of the Tournament
IIHF Directorate Awards
Best Goalkeeper: Adam Gajan, Slovakia
Best Defender: David Jiricek, Czechia
Best Forward: Connor Bedard, Canada
Media All-Star Team & MVP
Goalkeeper: Tomas Suchanek, Czechia
Defender: David Jiricek, Czechia
Defender: Ludvig Jansson, Sweden
Forward: Connor Bedard, Canada
Forward: Logan Cooley, United States
Forward: Jiri Kulich, Czechia
Most Valuable Player: Connor Bedard, Canada
Hayden Lewis is a first-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.