Bedard: “We came here to win”
by Lucas Aykroyd|05 JAN 2023
Tournament scoring leader Connor Bedard hopes to capture his second consecutive World Junior gold medal in the 2023 final against the Czechs.
photo: Matt Zambonin / IIHF
By Connor Bedard’s lofty standards, it was a relatively quiet night at the 2023 World Juniors. The North Vancouver native “only” scored Canada’s opening goal and added a second-period assist in the 6-2 semi-final comeback win over the archrival Americans. Bedard now boasts a tournament-leading nine goals and 23 points through six games.

However, the 17-year-old superstar, who is rewriting the Canadian World Junior record book, was fully focused on getting a shot at his second straight gold medal in Thursday’s final against Czechia in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The Czechs downed Canada 5-2 in their Boxing Day opener and edged Sweden 2-1 in overtime in their semi-final to make the gold medal game.

Bedard shared his thoughts with reporters after Wednesday’s action.

On going to the gold medal game:

It’s obviously awesome. Especially to play the Czechs again – the team that beat us – is exciting. But that being said, we didn't come here to make the finals. We came here to win.

On goalie Thomas Milic’s 43-save performance against the U.S.:

There’s only so many words to describe it. This guy is unbelievable. I think without him, I don't know if we win that game. So many great looks, and he's so good. I mean, we trust him so much back there.

On the undrafted Milic becoming Team Canada’s starter:

I'm shocked he's not drafted yet! I’m sure this summer will obviously be his time. He's from pretty close to where I am [in the Vancouver area]. So I always knew that he was kind of “the guy” from there. I have some buddies at home who knew him really well growing up, and they said, “This guy's pretty good.” So I always knew of him and knew he was good.

On Joshua Roy’s four-point night:

Yeah, he was unreal. He’s one of the smartest players that I've gotten to play with. Just how he dominated that game and stepped up his game when it mattered most is incredible.

On the vocal fans at Scotiabank Centre:

Yeah, that was pretty cool. I think without them, after those two goals [scored by the U.S.]...I think that was tough, but they stayed in it and gave us energy. So it was unbelievable, and I'm sure it'll be even better tomorrow.

On Canada’s slow start versus the U.S.:

I don't know. I mean, obviously, that's not how we want to come out. But it’s a 60-minute hockey game. So we knew how much time was left. They kind of played their best in that [first 10 minutes], and we didn't even start playing. So we weren't, you know, not confident.

On his thoughts about the rematch with the Czechs:

Obviously we played them in the first game of the tournament. Good team. They’re the only team who beat us so far. So it's going to be a real challenge. We’re going to watch some video on them, watch the video of their game tonight, and get ready.

On Stanislav Svozil, the Czech captain and Bedard’s Regina Pats teammate, saying he looks forward to defeating Canada again:

Yeah, I think you hear a lot of chirping between us, but all in good fun. I saw him before our game and he was pretty fired up. I told him, “I'll see you tomorrow night.” So I’m glad it ended up working out that way. 

On what happened to Canada in the 5-2 loss to Czechia:

We didn't play our game. Obviously it was our first game as a team. I think from there, we've built a lot, but I'm sure they have as well. So it's going to be a great [gold medal] game, and we're excited.