Connor Bedard ties Connor McDavid's record, leads Canada to gold at world U18s

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FRISCO, TEXAS - MAY 06: Connor Bedard #17 of Canada reacts after scoring a goal against Sergei Ivanov #29 of Russia in the first period during the 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship Gold Medal Game at Comerica Center on May 06, 2021 in Frisco, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Connor Bedard helped Canada win gold at the 2021 IIHF World U18 Championships, tying a record set by Connor McDavid and setting off a rivalry with Russian wunderkind Matvei Michkov. (Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Connor Bedard is only eligible for the NHL Draft in 2023, but he already finds himself in historic company. 

Bedard helped Canada capture gold at the 2021 IIHF World U18 Championships with a 5-3 victory over Russia, playing a central role in the victory. The 15-year-old phenom from the WHL's Regina Pats notched Canada's first goal of the contest, and assisted on captain Shane Wright's empty net marker that sealed the victory. 

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This caps off a dominant tournament for Bedard, who after recording 14 points throughout the tournament prior to the gold medal game, tied Connor McDavid's U18 record for most points by an under-16 player. 

Pretty impressive company, from one Connor to another. 

In many respects, Thursday's final was a glimpse of hockey's tantalizing future. Wright, who is the leading candidate to go first overall in 2022, showed why he's a pro-ready centre with an elite shot and ability to navigate space, finishing the tournament with nine goals and 14 points after a three-point effort Thursday, despite missing two games due to precautionary measures. He is a seismic, franchise-altering talent who, by no fault of his own, somehow got eclipsed by the precocious Bedard. 

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If this feels too futuristic, we won't blame you but it was an early lookahead as to why the 2023 NHL Draft may reveal the most interesting 1-2 punch atop the board in recent memory. Russia's Matvei Michkov — who has often been compared in the same stratosphere as Bedard — opened the scoring, flying onto a loose puck and sniping it into the low corner. 

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Michkov was named tournament MVP, a truly remarkable accomplishment for a kid who celebrated his 16th birthday in December. 

Bedard wasn't going to be outdone on Thursday and notched the equalizing goal, showing all of his dazzling talent in this sequence with a fantastically whipped backhand. 

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If this all sounds feverish, well, so be it, but three uber-prospects were on full display Thursday night and more than lived up to the early hype. Let the round-the-clock coverage begin. 

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