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Connor Bedard scores overtime winner after breaking national records at world juniors

The North Vancouver phenom sent Canada into the semifinals with a brilliant overtime goal to cap off an epic playoff game against Slovakia
Connor Bedard now holds the Canadian records for career points and goals at the world junior hockey championships after scoring an epic game-winning overtime goal over Slovakia Monday, Jan. 2 in Halifax. | @hockeycanada/Twitter

North Vancouver’s Connor Bedard got the record out of the way early and then won the game late in a performance for the ages at the world junior hockey championships Monday in Halifax.

Bedard scored the overtime winner in a thrilling 4-3 quarterfinal win over Slovakia, earning Canada a place in the semifinals. The goal ended off an epic night that saw Bedard become Canada’s career leader in both points and goals at the tournament.

The 17-year-old picked up two goals and an assist in the win, giving him 16 goals and 34 points in 14 career games at the tournament, both record totals for a Canadian player. Bedard came into the game tied with Eric Lindros for the points lead with 31 (Lindros did it in 21 games), and tied with Jordan Eberle, who scored 14 goals in 12 career games.

It took Bedard just one shot to break both records, as the young phenom opened the scoring in the game with a breakaway goal six minutes into the first period. A nail-biting classic ensued, as Canada peppered the Slovakia goal all night but had trouble beating Slovakia goalkeeper Adam Gajan (and hitting the post a handful of times). A late Slovakia goal sent the game into overtime, setting the stage for Bedard’s heroics.

Bedard has been on an epic run since registering a single goal in Canada’s 5-2 loss to Czechia to open the tournament on Boxing Day. In Game 2 against Germany, Bedard exploded, scoring a hat trick and adding four assists to tie the Canadian record for the most points in one game at the world juniors. Bedard joined Dave Andreychuk (1983), Brenden Morrow (1999), Mike Cammalleri (2002) and Gabriel Bourque (2010) on the list of Canadian players to pick up seven points in one game. He followed that up with another outrageous game, picking up six points – four assists and two goals – in a win over Austria. He then closed out preliminary round play with four assists in a 5-2 win over Sweden on New Year’s Eve.

Monday’s performance topped them all, though, with Bedard scoring the overtime winner in a win-or-go-home quarterfinal game. He’ll now have a chance to go for gold while also chasing the all-time career record for points in the tournament. That record is held by Swedish legend Peter Forsberg, who notched 42 points in 14 career games. Bedard will have a chance to top that total in Canada’s final two playoff games, as the Canadians will face the United States in semifinal play on Wednesday, with the gold medal and bronze medal games scheduled for Thursday.

Bedard won world juniors gold with Team Canada in the 2022 tournament, which was held in August after being cancelled last winter due to COVID-19. He is the first-ever player to earn exceptional status early entry into the Western Hockey League, and is the clear favourite to be selected first overall in the 2023 NHL entry draft.