Bedard scores a hat trick in Blackhawks’ debut at the Tom Kurvers Prospect Showcase

street. PAUL, MINNESOTA — Connor Bedard couldn’t wait to play a game for the first time in more than five months.

That was evident as soon as the center, who was selected No. 1 by the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2023 NHL Draft, stepped on the ice against the St. Louis Cardinals. Louis Blues at the Tom Kurvers Prospect Showcase at TRIA Rink on Saturday. By the end of the game, he had three goals and an assist in a 5-0 win.

However, the 18-year-old was relaxed as always after his performance.

“Yeah, that doesn’t mean much. It’s nice to play a game,” Bedard said. “It’s so much fun to be with the guys, you get here, you play the music, and that magic comes into you. That was the best part, just getting back into it, and yeah, it was fun.”

It was Bidar’s first game since April 10, when Regina, his team of the past three seasons, lost to Saskatoon in Game 7 of the first round of the Western Hockey League playoffs.

The game may not have meant much to Bedard, but it was certainly a reminder of why he’s been the most anticipated player in the NHL since center Connor McDavid, who was selected No. 1 by the Edmonton Oilers in the 2015 NHL Draft. Being released and shooting his wrist Brilliant. His ability, his desire to score goals even though he’s not the biggest guy (5-foot-10, 185 pounds), his ability to shoot from anywhere — all of that was on display in his first game in a Blackhawks uniform.

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“Yes, he looked dangerous every time he was on the ice,” said Anders Sorensen, coach of the American Hockey League’s Blackhawks in Rockford and a potential team this weekend. “He scored 11 shots, didn’t he? That’s very impressive.”

“I mean, just a lot of the changing angles (when he’s released), the way he catches passes, the way he tricks, the way he can pull pucks in and out. Impressive to watch. He was fun.”

Bedard displayed the scoring touch that helped him lead the Premier League in goals (71), points (143), shots on goal (360), points per game (2.51), and goals per game (1.24) in 57 regular season games. the past. .

He had great scoring chances throughout but were thwarted during the first half of the game by Blues goaltender Colten Ellis, who did not allow a goal before being replaced by Will Cranley 10:31 into the second half.

Bedard will not be denied on the Blackhawks’ second power play. He skated into the right faceoff circle and sent a wrist shot past Cranley for a 2-0 lead at 14:23 of the second. After recording, Bedard twirled his stick and playfully put it back in its “holster.”

“It was beautiful, of course,” Bedard said about this goal. “It’s a really good screen, it kind of threw it to the other side. It feels good, of course, to get one and of course just being a rookie here. It doesn’t mean a lot but it’s always good to score.”

Bedard scored again at 4:54 of the third period, skating to the left circle, then making a stop before drilling a shot into the top right corner from an acute angle to give the Blackhawks a 4-0 lead.

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When asked what he saw in that goal, Bedard said with a laugh: “I saw where it went.”

“No, a little bit off side and I don’t know, it was later on the power play, so I thought I’d go for it and I was lucky to score it.”

Bidar’s third goal came when he skated to the high slot and his shot went off the crossbar with just over seven minutes left in the game. Fans tried to throw hats onto the ice but were unable to due to the safety netting around the rink.

The performance came as no surprise to Bédard’s teammates.

“Yeah, I was (able to see what he did),” said goaltender Drew Commisso, who had a big shot. “It doesn’t shock me. I’ve seen it in action a lot.”

Louis Crevier and Colton Dach, assisted by Bedard, also scored for the Blackhawks, who play the Minnesota Wild, to close out the tournament at 4 p.m. ET on Sunday.

Will Bedard play on Sunday? He said he always likes to play but sees what the coaches say. “We’ll talk, and we’ll see what happens here,” Sorensen said.

Even if he didn’t play, Bedard put on a great show during the show.

“Yes, it was fun to finally play a game,” Bedard said. “It was a great pace out there, physically. We all had fun, so it was good to get in first person and go from there, I think.”

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