Connor Bedard on McTavish’s save, Auston Matthews and the 2023 NHL Draft

Canada's Connor Bedard (16) lines up for the face-off against Latvia during second period IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship action in Edmonton on Wednesday, August 10, 2022. (Jason Franson/CP)

It doesn’t sound like Connor Bedard will ever forget what he witnessed at close range on Saturday night.

The Canadian forward was as stunned as anyone when he saw teammate Mason McTavish bat a puck out of mid-air at the goal line in overtime, preventing Finland from taking gold at the World Junior Hockey Championship in Edmonton.

Kent Johnson then went on to score the golden goal for Canada.

“It was pretty crazy,” Bedard said on the Ailish Hour on Sportsnet 590 The Fan on Wednesday. “I was right beside and I was trying to whack at it too. I kept missing it so luckily he got it. It was crazy just watching that moment, it felt like it was slow motion. It was an unbelievable save by him and it obviously saved the game.”

The projected No. 1 pick in the 2023 NHL Draft, Bedard had four goals and four assists in seven games at the World Juniors.

“Definitely a dream come true,” Bedard said. “Lot of adversity with the tournament being cancelled (in December because of COVID-19) and stuff. To come back and be able to do that in front of that crowd, it was definitely very special.”

Bedard’s impressive shot has drawn the attention of many hockey fans. One way he gets better is by watching Toronto Maple Leafs star Auston Matthews.

“I’ve watched so many YouTube videos of him shooting or whatever. I’ll do that and then go in the backyard and try to practise it,” Bedard said. “I think he’s obviously the best in the world at especially that drag shot. He’s always somebody you can learn from in that aspect. He’s one of my favourite players too so I watch him all the time.”

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Speaking of the Leafs, Bedard was thrilled to see a close friend from his Vancouver minor hockey days, Kamloops Blazers centre Fraser Minten, be picked by Toronto in the second round of this year’s Draft. Bedard thinks Leafs fans should be happy, too.

“He’s one of the hardest workers I know,” Bedard said. “Before (the WHL) bantam draft, I don’t think anybody expected him to go in that draft. He was probably the steal of that one. To see him go was super exciting. … I’m sure he’ll be a great impact player for the Leafs.”

Bedard now will prepare for another season with the Regina Pats and then a shot at a second gold at the World Juniors in Halifax.

He’ll face extra scrutiny, of course, with this being his draft year.

“For me, it’s so far away and so much work to do until then,” Bedard said. “I’m just excited to get to Regina, play hockey and have fun doing that. Just try to take it one day at a time. Hopefully that day comes and it’s a special day. But it’s so far away and (he wants to) just kind of focus on the now.”

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