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All eyes on Connor Bedard as Calgary Hitmen host Regina Pats

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Connor Bedard has arrived in Calgary ahead of what's expected to be a completely full Scotiabank Saddledome when the Calgary Hitmen and Regina Pats square off.

 

 

It might be his world-class shot that appears poised to take the NHL by storm, maybe it's his lights-out performance at the World Juniors that propelled Canada to its 20th gold medal, or perhaps it's his overall elite hockey sense that has him dominating the WHL.

Either way, there's no denying the impact the 17-year-old phenom is having on junior hockey out west.

Wednesday night's game against the Calgary Hitmen at the Scotiabank Saddledome will mark the final time the Regina Pats visit the stampede city this season. All of the 19,280-plus seats are expected to be full, something even the Calgary Flames have managed to do fewer than a handful of times this season.

"It's a lot of fun for us to play in front of, I don't know how many people, but it's a lot," Bedard told Calgary media Wednesday, admitting it'll be the biggest crowd he will have played in front of (so far).

"It's exciting for all of us to have that and I think that's something you don't really get tired of."

 

The upper levels of the Saddledome are generally closed off for WHL action but, given the high demand, they're making an exception for tonight and the building is nearly sold out.

Ticketmaster doesn't have a single pair of tickets available outside the press level, and with all due respect to the local club, that's all thanks to Bedard.

Tickets to see the Pats have been a hot commodity in numerous venues across the league this season, especially following Bedard's dazzling World Juniors performance.

"It's great to play in front of big crowds, whatever the size of the rink. We still have a couple of injuries, but our team, we believe, is gaining some momentum," said John Paddock, Pats' head coach and general manager.

 

He's averaging 2.5 points per game this season, which a 17-year-old has only done one other time in WHL history.

Rob Brown accomplished the same feat in the 1985-86 season with the Kamloops Blazers when he notched 173 points in just 69 games.

The game has evolved substantially since then, and still, Bedard has 42 goals and 85 points in just 34 games. It's a stat line that is hard to wrap your head around. Wednesday night's game between the Pats and the Hitmen gets underway at 7 p.m.

The last time these two teams met, Bedard stole the show with four goals and two assists as Regina skated away with a 6-2 victory. However, Calgary remains six points ahead of the Pats, good for sixth place in the WHL Eastern Conference.

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