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Connor Bedard makes history as Canada dispatches Austria

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Connor Bedard tied the Canadian record for most goals in the World Juniors as he led Canada to a comfortable 11-0 win over Austria on Thursday. (Photo via IIHF)

Connor Bedard tied the Canadian record for most goals ever at the World Juniors, notching two goals and six points. Dylan Guenther opened the scoring, as Canada cruised to a 11-0 victory over Austria.

Here are five takeaways from Canada’s victory over Austria.

Connor Bedard ties the Canadian record for most goals at World Juniors

Just give him the MVP now.

Connor Bedard tied Jordan Eberle’s Canadian record for most all-time goals at the World Juniors, with his 14th tally, spread over two tournaments. This is certifiably nuts. Bedard is a draft-eligible player; 17-year-old playing with skaters two years older than him. Bedard’s only competition are the ghosts of the past, not anyone on the ice trying to compete against him. Good luck to whoever the Regina Pats play when Bedard returns to the Western Hockey League. His first goal even surprised the officials and we have more on that below.

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This is how Bedard tied Eberle’s national record:

The vast majority of Bedard’s goals have been of the highlight-reel variety, but this was a pure act of a goal-scorer lurking in a high-danger area. Simply put, this was the least sexy goal Bedard has scored all tournament, but he can score in any way you can possibly imagine. It’s only fitting his record-tying goal was the type that poachers are lauded for.

Dylan Guenther is quietly having a supremely productive tournament

You almost have to feel bad for Dylan Guenther. He scored a hat trick Wednesday against Germany and it was glossed over — by us, too — in light of the record-setting performance by Connor Bedard. Bedard was once again the best player on the ice by a country mile, but you have to be thrilled about Guenther’s tournament-to-date if you’re a fan of the Arizona Coyotes.

Guenther, the ninth-overall pick in 2021, has looked pro-ready through the opening three games, although you could argue that he’s simply at a level above the relatively overmatched competition. He opened the scoring on a beautiful goal, where Bedard found Brennan Othmann at the goalmouth, who subsequently fed Guenther with a gorgeous between-the-legs pass.

Guenther has been downright incredible throughout the three games, and he’s proven to be more than adept at getting open, then calling for his shot on cross-ice feeds. He has played 21 games with the Coyotes this season and it’s so obvious that his time in the NHL has truly turned him into a man amongst boys this year.

Shane Wright is cooking opponents on the power play

Shane Wright has been one of the main beneficiaries of Connor Bedard’s otherworldly talents, but he’s also having the tournament he’s been destined for on his own merit. Wright has elevated his game to another tier when he’s on the man advantage, scoring on the power play in three consecutive games.

Wright, in a similar vein to Guenther and Bedard, is making it look extremely easy getting to the slot and high-danger scoring areas. He’s always had innate scoring ability but he’s constantly making himself available for the clinical pass and much like Guenther, it’s evident he can body defenders out of his way when crashing the net.

Wright was named man of the match for Canada during the loss to Czechia, and he’s frankly been one of the best players in this year’s tournament. This is what he’s been destined for since being granted exceptional status into the Ontario Hockey League as a 15-year-old. Now that he’s playing with his former minor hockey teammates in Brennan Othmann and Brandt Clarke, Wright looks calm, cool, collected and he’s absolutely destroying opponents on the man advantage when they simply guard him 1-on-1.

Bedard and Logan Stankoven scored so quickly, it confused the officials

We have to pick our spots when analyzing Bedard. He’s been so damn good throughout the tournament, we’re picking different aspects of his game to go through. Bedard scored so quickly that the officials didn’t even recognize that the puck went in. Here’s what happened:

Here’s another video:

Here’s the real-time view inside the arena via JFreshHockey.

Bedard scored from an impossible angle, almost like Roberto Carlos running perpendicular to the goal line before whipping a dangerous ball in. He can shoot from virtually anywhere but that usually refers to his long-distance shooting range and less of a suggestion that he ought to aim and wind up nearly touching the boards. It was truly unbelievable. But it wasn’t the only time the officials missed an obvious Canadian goal.

Logan Stankoven also confused the officials. Stankoven popped one in at the goalmouth, roofing the puck into the top corner. But the referees and goal judge both missed it in real-time, as play went on for what felt like an eternity, before Austria took a puck over glass penalty, forcing the review.

Stankoven revealed during the 2nd intermission interview with TSN that they didn’t know it was a goal or not until they got back to the bench. It was surely a nice surprise in a contest devoid of them.

Benjamin Gaudreau didn’t face a single test

This is the type of game Gaudreau wanted after a rough start Monday against Czechia. Unfortunately, Gaudreau didn’t face a single dangerous chance from the Austrians and was largely forced to chill and watch the show like the rest of us. Gaudreau made 12 saves and by no means is this a criticism. But does it tip the balance against Thomas Milic, who started in Wednesday’s 11-2 win against Germany? We don’t think so. Milic left in one soft goal and another acceptable one, whereas Gaudreau was pulled on an off-night Monday.

It’ll be compelling to see who the starter is and again, Gaudreau did everything he needed to. But he didn’t face any real work whatsoever, so we’ll see how it plays out on New Year’s Eve.

 

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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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