World Juniors Three Stars, Day 3: Bedard showcases his ‘exceptional’ talent

Canada celebrates a goal against Austria during first period IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship action in Edmonton on Tuesday, December 28, 2021. (Jason Franson/CP)

There were two round robin games scheduled for Day 3 of the 2022 World Junior Hockey Championship, but hockey fans received yet another stark reminder that the COVID-19 pandemic is far from over.

The United States was forced to forfeit its game against Switzerland after two players returned positive Covid tests. Fortunately, both players are asymptomatic, but the entire team was placed into quarantine as a precaution.

The American players were re-tested today and will be tested again Wednesday ahead of their scheduled game versus Sweden. If those tests come back negative, USA can return to the ice, but it’s a waiting game now.

As for the one game that was played today, it wasn’t much of a contest. Canada hammered Austria early and often in an 11-2 rout, and half the Canadian team had impressive enough performances to earn recognition with tonight’s three stars.

But that wouldn’t be much fun to read. So here are my three stars from Day 3 of the World Juniors.

At the World Juniors, one day can change everything. Stay informed with our coverage of the tournament.

3rd Star: Switzerland

Although they didn’t play today, Switzerland still came out as winners on Day 3.

As a result of the United States’ forfeiture, Switzerland picked up a vital three points to move ahead of Slovakia in the standings for Group B.

It was a heavy blow to both the Americans and Slovaks, but an unexpected victory for the Swiss.

On paper, this wasn’t a game anyone expected Switzerland to be competitive in, let alone pick up three points for (the equivalent of a regulation victory).

Many had Switzerland finishing last in Group B and headed for the relegation round (though the IIHF announced no teams will be relegated out of the top division this year). Instead, they are in a good position to make the quarter-finals, even if the United States is able to resume playing games.

Unfortunately, Slovakia is in an even tougher position to advance to the quarter-finals. They still control their own fate, but the Slovaks will need to pick up at least one regulation win in their final two round robin games.

With the unexpected break, Switzerland should be well-rested for their final two games of the round robin, which are back-to-backs against Slovakia and Sweden.

2nd Star: Lukas Necesany, Austria

While Austria’s goal may have been the result of a brutal misplay by Canadian goaltender Brett Brochu, Necesany deserves the recognition for getting his team the board.

Austria tightened things up in the second frame, and they should be very proud of how they responded after a lopsided first period.

After Brochu came out of his net to play the puck and whiffed on a clearing attempt, Vinzenz Rohrer (2022) followed the puck and fed it all the way across the ice to a wide-open Necesany.

Necesany made no mistake, ripping the puck past a falling Brochu, who tried desperately to get back in position.

That goal gave Austria a total of two, in back-to-back games, at this year’s tournament, and they added one more late in the third period with Mathias Böhm’s power-play tally.

Austria has now scored more goals than they had through four round-robin games in 2021.

Those goals may not have mattered in the grand scheme of things, as Austria suffered another blowout loss, but it’s something they can hang their hats on as they head into their next round-robin game against Czechia.

1st Star: Connor Bedard, Canada

Bedard joined some legendary company with his performance against Austria, and he did it in style.

The last time a 16-year old recorded a hat trick for Canada at the World Juniors was all the way back in 1977.

The teenager? Wayne Gretzky.

Bedard scored his first goal of the match from the slot, after he whiffed on his first shot but buried his own rebound past Austrian goaltender Leon Sommer for his first goal of the tournament.

Then he picked a pass off in the neutral zone to create a turnover, shielded the puck as he drove into the offensive zone, and finished off a nice give-and-go with Will Cuylle (NYR) for Canada’s fifth goal of the first period.

Bedard wrapped up the natural hat trick before the game was even half over, dangling around Luca Erne and sniping past Sommer to send the hats flying at Rogers Place.

And because three wasn’t enough, Bedard became the first Canadian to score four goals in a game at the World Juniors since Maxime Comtois (ANA) in 2019.

The first exceptional Connor (McDavid) had four points total as a 16-year old at the World Juniors back in 2014.

Bedard had four goals in one game, and if you weren’t excited for the 2023 NHL Draft yet, you should be now.

Canada will take on Germany tomorrow. Hopefully they saved enough goals for the rest of the tournament too.

When submitting content, please abide by our submission guidelines, and avoid posting profanity, personal attacks or harassment. Should you violate our submissions guidelines, we reserve the right to remove your comments and block your account. Sportsnet reserves the right to close a story’s comment section at any time.