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Bedard shines as Canada demolishes Germany to bounce back at world juniors

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Canada needed a response after a miserable 48 hours.

Connor Bedard — as he’s done so often in his young career — delivered with lethal precision.

The 17-year-old phenom had a hat trick and four assists Wednesday as the host county got back on track at the world junior hockey championship with an emphatic 11-2 victory over Germany.

“Unbelievable game,” Canadian captain Shane Wright said. “Pretty crazy what he’s doing out there. Special night.”

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It certainly was.

Bedard’s seven-point performance tied a single-game Canadian record on a night the favourites at the men’s under-20 showcase needed a response following Monday’s embarrassing 5-2 loss to Czechia.

“It’s cool,” the presumptive No. 1 pick at the 2023 NHL draft said of joining Dave Andreychuk (1983), Brenden Morrow (1999), Mike Cammalleri (2002) and Gabriel Bourque (2010) on Canada’s seven-point list. “But that’s not a huge deal for me. It’s good to get the win.

“I got a couple of pretty lucky ones. Just one of those nights.”

 

Connor Bedard leads Canada past Germany at the World Junior Championship

Projected number 1 draft pick, Connor Bedard scores 3 goals and has 4 assists leading Canada to an 11-2 victory over Team Germany at the World Junior Championship.

Bedard now has 12 goals all-time at the world juniors, two back of Jordan Eberle’s national record.

“I’ll text him saying he’s got a guy on his heels,” Wright said of Eberle, his teammate with the NHL’s Seattle Kraken. “Don’t think we’ll be focused on that a lot, but it’s gonna be special if he hits those along the way.”

“He was on fire … shot was unreal,” Canadian head coach Dennis Williams added of Bedard. “His creativity and his poise … a great night.

“He led the way.”

Dylan Guenther also had a hat trick — all off Bedard passes — while Logan Stankoven added a goal and two assists.

Wright, Brandt Clarke and Joshua Roy, with a goal and an assist each, and Zack Ostapchuk also scored.

Olen Zellweger chipped in with three assists as Williams shook up three of his forward lines — including splitting up Bedard and Wright — after a disconnected and disjointed effort against the Czechs.

“We came much more determined,” said the coach. “Played tighter as a group.”

Thomas Milic made 14 saves in his first world junior start for Canada. Roman Kechter and Philip Sinn replied for Germany, which got 30 stops from Simon Wolf before he was replaced by Rihards Babulis for the third period in a mercy pull. Babulis finished with 11 saves.

“We were pretty hungry,” Bedard said. “That was a huge way to come back.”

Austria up next

Canada, which improved to 16-0 all-time against the Germans, will now quickly pivot to face Austria — outscored 20-0 through its two tournament games — Thursday back at Scotiabank Centre.

Coming off a 1-0 defeat Tuesday to Sweden, Germany is off Thursday before a Friday meeting with Austria.

A talent-rich team loaded with nine first-round NHL draft picks, plus Bedard and fellow high-end prospect Adam Fantilli, Canada was stunned by the Czechs in an uninspired curtain-raiser that left the powerhouse nation searching for answers.

That included players questioning their own readiness and preparation, while Fantilli and Bedard each attempted and failed “The Michigan” lacrosse-style move early — sequences viewed afterwards as symptomatic of the Canadians’ loose approach against an underdog opponent.

There would be no repeat.

“We didn’t change our game based on what the score was,” Guenther said. “I love that … that was awesome.”

The Arizona Coyotes forward opened things on a power play in the first period off a Bedard feed before when Ketcher snapped a shot through Milic.

Wright was credited with his second goal of the tournament on another man advantage when a German defender swept the puck into his own net.

Bedard, who had four goals in an 11-2 victory over Austria one year ago to the day before that tournament was shelved by COVID-19, made it 3-1 when he took a stretch pass and ripped a shot past Wolf, and got another early in the second on a goaltending miscue.

“We were a lot more focused,” Wright said. “We knew we had to respond after last game’s effort.”

Wright said Bedard could probably put up a couple points a night in the NHL right now.

“Incredible,” said the No. 4 pick at the 2022 draft. “Haven’t seen many individual performances like that. Pretty special.”

Added Guenther: “He’s gonna be an impact player there, I assume, right away.”

Bedard roofed his hat trick goal on another power play through a screen before Rayan Bettahar was assessed a match penalty and ejected for an illegal check to the head on Fantilli.

A Canadian hockey player is seen being hit in the face by a German player. The Canadian's face is titled back due to the contact and both his skates aren't in contact with the ice as he's in falling down.
Canada’s Adam Fantilli, centre, is hit by Germany’s Rayan Bettahar during the second period in Halifax on Wednesday. (Darren Calabrese/The Canadian Press)

That’s when the floodgates really opened.

Guenther scored his second on a slick Bedard feed to make it 6-1 and Clarke blasted a one-timer off a German defender.

Bedard then set up Guenther for his third on the same man advantage and Stankoven added another late in the period for a 9-1 lead through 40 minutes.

Ostapchuk made it 10-1 early in the third before Bedard assisted on Roy’s goal for his seventh point of the evening.

Sinn got a late consolation goal on a German power play to close out a night that saw Canada recalibrate after an uncomfortable two days.

“That’s how we play hockey,” Wright said. “All three periods — all 60 minutes — that was Team Canada hockey. We were expecting a bounce-back game and that’s exactly we got.

“Really proud of our effort.”

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Novak Djokovic shares message to Australian Open runner-up Elena Rybakina – Tennis World USA

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Novak Djokovic congratulated Australian Open runner-up Elena Rybakina on “an amazing tournament.” On Saturday, 23-year-old Rybakina fell just short of landing her second Grand Slam title. In the Australian Open final, Rybakina was up by a set before 24-year-old Aryna Sabalenka stormed back to win 4-6 6-3 6-4.

Six months ago, Djokovic and Rybakina lifted titles at Wimbledon. “@lenarybakina, amazing tournament,” Djokovic captioned his Instagram Story.

Djokovic congratulates Rybakina

Rybakina has now made Grand Slam finals in two of the last three Major tournaments.

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After winning Wimbledon and finishing as runner-up at the Australian Open, Rybakina admits her confidence levels have increased and she now believes even more that she can win Grand Slams. “For sure, that’s the goal, to be in the second week of all the Grand Slam, to play finals.

I mean, now I have more confidence of course even after this final. I just need to work hard, same as I did during pre-season and actually throughout the years, be healthy, and for sure the results are going to come. I would say I’m trying to not think about expectations and everything.

Still after a great pre-season like this I was thinking I should show it on the court. Then, of course, the results are going to be there. First few weeks was not that great…but I think in the end it’s just confidence to go forward, to keep on working.

I feel now good physically also. I know if I’m going to keep on working, the results are going to be (good),” Rybakina said after the match, per Tennis Majors. Rybakina has proved over the last six months that she has what it takes to be a legitimate Grand Slam contender.

En route to reaching the Australian Open final, Rybakina defeated world No 1 Iga Swiatek. It will be interesting to see how will Rybakina do after a strong Australian Open run.

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Maple Leafs’ Murray dealing with ankle injury, Samsonov to start vs. Capitals – Sportsnet.ca

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Bo Horvat puts up four assists as Canucks top Blue Jackets – Sportsnet.ca

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