June 25th, 2024

Bedard focusing on Pats playoffs ahead of draft

By Lethbridge Herald on March 10, 2023.

Herald Photo by Justin Seward Connor Bedard leads a a morning skate drill on Friday at the Enmax Centre.

By Justin Seward

Lethbridge Herald

The projected No.1 overall pick in this year’s NHL Entry Draft , Connor Bedard, was in town with his Regina Pats last night to face the Lethbridge Hurricanes, and fielded questions Friday morning from local media on how his season is going in Regina and his perspective on the draft.

“Yeah, I mean you don’t really think about it too much,” said Bedard, on the draft.

“I mean your focus is on the present and kind of for us, we’ve got to win games down the stretch here, and obviously I want to play well myself, and improve myself and I think that’s the focus. (And) not what’s coming in a few months.”

The biggest piece of advice Bedard has taken into this year is staying present.

“You know you play so many games, and there’s so much kind of outside noise,  that you’ve got to focus on what’s in your room and what you can control,” said Bedard.

“And I think that’s kind of been a big message to me from people and for myself, is just kind of staying present and focusing on what you can do every day.”

Last night was Bedard’s third time facing off against his World Junior Hockey Championship coach and current Hurricanes head coach Brent Kisio since winning gold in January.

“It’s good,” said Bedard.

“Yeah, I mean I obviously played him a few times since the tournament and we got a long really well. He’s a really good coach obviously and we haven’t talked since, but  maybe today see him and catch up a bit. But I really enjoyed having him at World Juniors … It’s good to see him and play against him.”

Kisio said it was special to coach Bedard.

“I was looking after running the powerplay and he was a big part of that, and then worked with the forwards as well ,” said Kisio.

“We just created a lot of special moments. You know as good as he is a hockey player, he’s a better kid off the ice and that’s saying a lot. He’s very coachable, he wants to learn, he wants to adapt, he wants to find ways to score goals and he wants to find ways to help the team win. And it was a pretty special experience to be with a player of his calibre and see what he did and the moments he created for Canada and helping us achieve a gold medal.”

Pats head coach John Paddock said he sets a high level.

“What we expect is what we’ve seen so far and you know it’s a unique situation to have a player of this level of ability at 17,” said Paddock.

“I mean we’ve had a couple of great junior players before in (Adam) Brooks and (Sam) Steel, and we used to play against one here in (Dylan) Cozens, and he’s (Bedard) just taken it to an all different level. It’s sort of the first time thing for us in junior and first time thing for our league -— you know being the first exceptional player in what he’s done.”

The Pats find themselves in playoff chase and five points behind the Hurricanes going into Friday’s game,  as they are holding down the sixth spot in the Eastern Conference after going 12-7-1 since the Jan. 10 trade deadline.

“It’s exciting,” said Bedard.

“It was similar last year. I think for us, we were trying to get in and obviously unfortunately kind of failed to do that. But hopefully this year’s different. But every game is super important and it feels like every game is a must win. So it’s very exciting.”

Bedard has 125 points (61 goals, 64 assists) in 50 games.

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Should have been a Hurricane. We traded that first overall pick in the WHL draft to the Pats!!!