Wearing Team Canada jersey would be an 'honour' for Regina Pats star Bedard heading to selection camp

Connor Bedard said he’s excited for the chance to challenge himself and play among the best under-20 hockey players from around the world.

Regina Pats coach says teammates will need to step up in star forward's absence

The Regina Pats centre and junior hockey star Connor Bedard, 17, is looking to wear the red and white sweater for a second time this year and earn a second gold medal. (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press)

Regina Pats star forward Connor Bedard will begin selection camp on Friday in Moncton, N.B., for the world junior hockey championship with his eyes on a second gold medal in less than six months.

The camp will determine which of 25 players and four goalies will sport the red and white during the under-20 championship beginning in Moncton and Halifax on Dec. 26.

"I think the first time you put that jersey on every tournament it's pretty surreal," Bedard, 17, told reporters Wednesday afternoon. "It's an honour."

He'll be joining nine other potential returnees to the roster, all of whom will be looking to repeat their gold medal finish at the tournament earlier this year, which was held in Edmonton in August after being postponed last December because of an outbreak of the Omicron variant of COVID-19. 

Those members include Ethan Del Mastro, Nathan Gaucher, Riley Kidney, Carson Lambos, Zack Ostapchuk, Brennan Othmann, Joshua Roy, Logan Stankoven and Olen Zellweger.

The Hockey Canada staff said it's continuing to have discussions with NHL teams to learn if additional players will be joining the camp.

Regina Pats' Connor Bedard makes a move past Latvia's Rihards Simanovics during the second period of Canada's 5-2 victory at the world junior hockey championship in Edmonton in August this year. He tallied eight points with the team in seven games. (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press)

Those players will be chiseled down to a final roster to be announced on Monday.

Championship action will begin on Boxing Day with Team Canada playing Czechia following pre-tournament games against Switzerland, Slovakia and Finland.

Bedard said he's looking for a challenge and a chance to play with the best players in Canada against "the best 19-year-olds in the world".

A pair of defencemen with Saskatchewan connections are also on the selection camp roster: Nolan Allan from Davidson and Kevin Korchinski from Saskatoon.

Regina Pats missing Bedard

The Regina Pats returned to Saskatchewan from a nine-game road trip that started in Saskatoon, journeyed through Winnipeg, and several arenas in B.C. before returning back to the province. 

They'll play their 10th away game in Prince Albert on Friday, hoping to win their third in a row after going 5-4 on the road in the past nine games.

The Pats sit at sixth in the Western Hockey League's eastern conference with 14 wins and 12 losses. Bedard has accounted for 27 of the team's 112 goals this year with 37 assists for a total of 64 points in 28 games.

Regina Pats assistant coach Brad Herauf says he'll depend on his team's depth to fill the gap left by their leading scorer as Connor Bedard heads off to Nova Scotia for the world junior hockey championship (Radio-Canada)

Bedard said he'll return to the Pats as soon as he can following the international championship, but until then assistant coach Brad Herauf said the team won't be able to replace his scoring potential and some players will need to step up.

"I think that's one thing about our team is we do got depth; we don't maybe have that most high-end talent but we feel that any guy we plug in the lineup can pick up the rope and keep pulling it," Herauf said.

Bedard also responded to questions if he plans on leaving the Pats, stating he doesn't want to leave and it doesn't seem head coach John Paddock plans on sending him away either.

The Regina Pats will face the Raiders in Prince Albert on Friday.