NHL’s hottest prospect visits BC ahead of Giants vs Regina Pats game

It’s the hottest regular season ticket in the 20-plus year history of the Vancouver Giants and it all goes down tomorrow (Nov. 25) at the Langley Events Centre.

Burgeoning junior hockey star and North Vancouver product Connor Bedard, along with his Regina Pats, make their lone visit to the Lower Mainland and his arrival has sent hockey fans into a frenzy.

The game was sold out months ago and even today on the StubHub ticket re-sale market, a single ticket is going for close to $200.

According to Vancouver Giants senior vice-president Dale Saip, the demand to see Bedard was unlike anything he’s ever seen for a Western Hockey League regular season game.

“It’s really unprecedented for a regular season game,” Saip said, noting he expects over 5,000 in the LEC on Friday. “It’s quite something. I’ve been in this business for a long time and in western Canada we never had a [Connor] McDavid or a Sidney]Crosby come to town. It’s a neat thing to have someone like this show up, it’s going to be good for us.”

Saip said there has been similar ticket buzz for events such as the Memorial Cup or when the Giants had deep playoff runs, but never for an ordinary regular season game. He said media attention has also been high, with many outlets wanting to get footage of the young phenom.

“I’m thinking I’m going to see a whole bunch of media here that I haven’t seen for a while,” he said, laughing.

Those who miss out on seeing Bedard on Friday will likely get the chance to see him at the 2023 CHL Top Prospects Game, which occurs in Langley at the LEC on Jan. 25, 2023. Bedard is the top-ranked NHL prospect and, as long as he’s healthy, is a lock to attend that game.

Saip said fans will get a good show at either game.

“He’s a phenomenal athlete,” he said. “The WHL has produced a ton of Hall of Fame talent, but this is a different type of player that you don’t often see in the hard-nosed WHL. He’s very skilled.”

Bedard and the Pats arrived in Langley earlier this week and he spoke to the media following a practice at the LEC on Thursday (Nov. 24). He said he is looking forward to hitting the ice in his home province.

“It is pretty cool to see [the sold out games]. It is also exciting for our whole team and people will see a lot of energy,” he said.

Even Bedard’s family had to make early adjustments, but they were all able to secure their tickets, confirmed Bedard.

Bedard said he is excited about his draft ranking and even taking advice from experienced players. He further shared that his international games have allowed him to train with other NHLers and sharpen his skills.

“I have seen their work ethic. You can learn a lot from [the NHLers]and it’s awesome,” he commented.

When asked if he watches the Canucks games, the young athlete said he has been a “big fan” of the team since he was a kid but has missed a few matches in recent times due to a tight schedule.

“We have been pretty busy, and I have missed a few games, but I always try to watch [Canucks].”

Bedard also named NHLer Mason McTavish of Anaheim Ducks as a player he looks up to.

In 2020, Bedard became the first player ever granted “exceptional status” in the Western Hockey League (WHL), allowing him to enter the league at the age of 15 as opposed to the normal 16.

The 5′-10” forward was also the first overall pick by the Regina Pats in the WHL’s Bantam Draft. In the 2021-22 season, he became the league’s youngest 50-goal scorer, finishing with 51 goals and 100 points for Regina.

Bedard also represented Canada in the World Under-19 championship at the age of 15.

Face-off for Friday’s game is set for 7:30 pm

Those elsewhere in BC will also get an opportunity to see Bedard at games in Victoria on Saturday (Nov. 26), Kelowna (Nov. 29), Kamloops (Nov. 30) and Prince George (Dec. 2).

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Connor Bedard is in Langley as the Regina Pats take on the Vancouver Giants Friday, Nov.  25, 2022. He held a press briefing Thursday.  (Ryan Molag/LEC)

Connor Bedard is in Langley as the Regina Pats take on the Vancouver Giants Friday, Nov. 25, 2022. He held a press briefing Thursday. (Ryan Molag/LEC)

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