Four goals for Bedard in Canadian romp
by Lucas Aykroyd|29 DEC 2021
Connor Bedard (#16) dazzled the hockey world with his four-goal explosion in Canada's 11-2 waxing of Austria at the 2022 World Juniors.
photo: Andrea Cardin / HHOF-IIHF Images
Canada thrashed Austria 11-2 on Tuesday in the first World Junior meeting between these nations in more than 40 years. Budding superstar Connor Bedard, 16, became the youngest Canadian player ever to score four goals in a World Junior game.

"He's an exceptional player, and what I like about my short time with Connor is how receptive he is to coaching," said head coach Dave Cameron, who increased Bedard's ice time to 14:33 from 12:23 in his first game. "You have to let those exceptional players play to their strengths, but you have to mature their game away from the puck, and Connor has made good strides in that.

The only previous 16-year-old to score a World Junior hat trick was Wayne Gretzky at the 1978 tournament, which pretty much says it all.

"To hear your name with that guy, whenever you get that honour, it's pretty crazy and surreal," said Bedard, who had a whopping 12 shots on goal. "But it's the second game of the tournament. I'm obviously trying not to get too high on myself."

The trends in this Group A tilt at Rogers Place were foreseeable. Canada, gunning for its first gold medal since 2020 and 19th of all time, stayed perfect after doubling Czechia 6-3 in its Boxing Day opener. Sixteen different Canadians registered at least one point.

Austria remains pointless after falling 7-1 to Finland on Monday.

"Of course, we’re not happy with the score, but it was such a great feeling playing against Canada in such a big rink," said Austria's Lukas Necesany. "I think we wanted to just enjoy it. Despite the score everybody had a little bit of fun at least, and we can take something away from this game."

The lone previous Canada-Austria encounter was 30 December, 1980. Canada won 11-1 in Landsberg, West Germany. That was one year before Hockey Canada’s Program of Excellence was instituted, and Canada was represented by the reigning Memorial Cup champion Cornwall Royals, featuring Dale Hawerchuk, Doug Gilmour, and Marc Crawford.

Final shots in Tuesday's game favoured Canada 64-22.

"The game went pretty much like I thought it would," said Cameron. "I think the experience allows you to battle through that whole process."
Austria vs Canada - 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship
AUT CAN 28 DEC 2021
In the first period alone, Canada outshot Austria 25-6. It was open season on Austrian goalie Leon Sommer. The 19-year-old Linz native was making his World Junior debut.

Kent Johnson opened the scoring on the power play at 5:08 on a beautiful one-timerset up for him by Cole Perfetti and Owen Power, who won the IIHF World Championship together in Latvia in June. Against Czechia, Power – Johnson’s teammate with the University of Michigan – also became the first Canadian defenceman ever to get a World Junior hat trick.

Just 55 seconds later, it was 2-0. Defender Lukas Cormier walked the line, barely keeping the puck onside and waltzed in to score low to the glove side.

Cameron inserted Logan Stankoven of the Kamloops Blazers, who had the eventual gold-medal winner against Russia in the 2021 U18 Worlds final, into the lineup for his first World Junior appearance alongside Johnson and Mason McTavish. It paid off. Stankoven sped into the Austrian zone and unleashed a high stick-side wrister that beat Sommer for a 3-0 lead at 8:22.

Sommer strove to keep it close. When Bedard deked Austrian blueliner Luca Erne out of his proverbial jock strap to get in alone, the netminder earned a round of applause with a spectacular glove save on the likely top pick in the 2023 NHL Draft.

"I think everybody knows Canada is not the easiest opponent, but he had a lot of high-quality shots," said Austria's Vinzenz Rohrer.

Sommer was less fortunate during another Canadian power play. Bedard got two cracks at the puck in tight after Jake Neighbours set him up from the goal line. His first career World Junior goal came at 15:02.

Just 1:11 later, the 16-year-old Regina Pats superstar capitalized on a give-and-go rush with Will Cuylle for a 5-0 margin.

"Everyone makes the game easy when you're here playing with these guys," Bedard said. "It was a good game for our team and I was obviously lucky to get those goals."

In the second period, Bedard completed his hat trick at 6:13, deking and dancing unimpeded through Austrian defenders to fire a high one past Sommer.

In his first World Junior start, Canadian goalie Brett Brochu made 20 saves for the win. However, the Austrians spoiled the London Knights veteran's shutout bid with 31 seconds left in the second period. Brochu came out to play the puck and lost his footing. Vinzenz Rohrer got the puck by the side boards and sent it cross-ice to Lukas Necesany, who rifled it into the gaping cage as Brochu sprawled.

"He made a great pass and I just put it in the empty net," Necesany said. "I’m really happy for that and thankful for the great pass!"

Just 27 seconds into the third period, the Austrian defenders got completely crossed up and bobbled the puck, enabling Perfetti to loft one home from the slot and restore Canada's six-goal edge.

Austria looked mentally and physically out of gas as the clock ticked down.

Bedard got his fourth goal on a nice tip at 2:34. Mason McTavish added two goals 47 seconds apart to put Canada up 10-1 less than six minutes into the final stanza. Perfetti set up Mavrik Bourque on the rush for the 11-1 marker at 6:47.

"It's only our second game, so you know we've got a long way to go and we're going to try to get better every game," Bedard said.

Austria's Mathias Bohm banged in a power-play rebound at 12:20 to give the fans back in Vienna something to cheer about.

The host nation was missing some important pieces. Versus Czechia, high-scoring Shawinigan Cataractes forward Xavier Bourgault was injured on a high hit from Stanislav Svozil, while Justin Sourdif, the captain of the Vancouver Giants, was suspended for a game for his hit on Jiri Tichacek. However, their absence wouldn't stop Canada from crushing Austria.

No teams will be relegated this year. So whether the Austrians shine or slump from here on, they will return for the 2023 tournament in Novosibirsk and Omsk, Russia.

Canada goes for its third straight win at the 2022 World Juniors against Germany on Wednesday, while Austria takes on Czechia on Thursday.

"The key is to focus on how we play," said Rohrer. "Focus on getting shots, chip the puck in, get a forecheck going, hit someone, be really gritty. That’s the biggest key for our success, to be gritty and really want the puck."
Austria vs Canada - 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship