2023 IIHF World Junior Championship

2023 World Juniors: Connor Bedard Breaks Records, Sends Canada To Semis

2023 World Juniors: Connor Bedard Breaks Records, Sends Canada To Semis

Connor Bedard scored the OT game-winner amid a record-breaking performance as Canada advanced to the semifinals.

Jan 3, 2023 by Chris Peters
2023 World Juniors: Connor Bedard Breaks Records, Sends Canada To Semis

It really was the only way it could have ended. Connor Bedard wrote perhaps the most brilliant chapter of his fairytale tournament, scoring the game-winning goal in overtime to send Canada to the semifinal of the 2023 World Junior Championship in stunning fashion.

On top of winning the game, Bedard had three points, though he only needed one, to become Canada's all-time leading scorer at the World Juniors. He also broke the Canadian record for single-tournament scoring, broke the record for career goals by a Canadian and he's not done yet.

After another World Junior epic that saw Slovakia overcome a 3-1 deficit and score the only goal of the third period, overtime was needed to decide the game.

Canada took eight shots on goal in the overtime period, but it was the eighth that mattered most as Bedard managed to keep a puck in the zone and go around all three Slovak skaters and goaltender Adam Gajan, who had been brilliant the entire game, to pot the game-winner in highlight-reel fashion.

In addition to the OT winner, Bedard scored the game's first goal to rewrite the Canadian WJC history books, passing Eric Lindros with his 32nd career point at the World Juniors, and surpassing Jordan Eberle with his 15th career goal. Slovakia made it tough to score the rest of the first period.

Canada then got a 2-0 lead thanks to Dylan Guenther (ARI), with Bedard picking up an assist on the goal for his 20th point of the World Junior Championship. But Slovakia simply wouldn't go away.

Libor Nemec scored a power-play goal to cut the deficit to 2-1 less than two minutes after Guenther put Canada ahead by two. Just over two minutes later, however, Zack Ostapchuk (OTT) scored on a perfectly-placed wrist shot after coming down the right wing, making it 3-1 Canada.

The Slovaks got a critical goal from Robert Baco later in the second period to breathe more life into their chances. They managed to hold Canada off for the remainder of the period before playing in a hard-fought third.

In the final frame of regulation, Nemec scored his second of the game halfway through the period when Filip Mesar (MTL) managed to get off a Canadian check and find him in the slot. 

Over the rest of the third period, Gajan's heroics were on full display. He stopped all 15 shots he faced in the third period, giving Slovakia a chance in a game almost no one thought they could win. Gajan made 46 saves in regulation alone before picking up another seven in overtime.

After an errant Slovak pass off the stick of captain Simon Nemec (NJD) went for icing, Slovakia couldn't manage to get out of their zone and then they couldn't get the line change they desperately needed. 

That set the stage for Bedard's heroics and ultimately ended Slovakia's tournament, agonizingly short of the semifinal.

Canada, meanwhile, is set for a semifinal matchup with the United States, which beat Germany 11-1 in a quarterfinal earlier Monday. On the other side of the bracket, Czechia will meet Sweden.

With his three points in the game, Bedard now has 21 in the 2023 tournament alone. It is the highest point total by any player in the last 30 years and ranks tied for fourth all time with Czechoslovakia's Robert Reichel for single-tournament scoring. Bedard will need three more points to get to No. 2, at which Markus Naslund and Raimo Helminen both sit with 24 points. Peter Forsberg is the single-tournament record holder with 31 points.

Additionally, Bedard's World Junior career is now at 34 points. He is one point away from joining the top five in all-time scoring at the World Juniors as Esa Tikkanen and Alexander Mogilny are currently tied for fourth with 35 points.