No one can predict the future of Connor Bedard or the potential heights he and the Chicago Blackhawks may reach. However, if legends are built on memorable moments, Bedard’s first goal at the United Center will certainly be a topic of discussion in sports bars for years to come. Bedard made his regular season debut at the iconic Madhouse on Madison and provided fans with something to rave about just 1 minute and 30 seconds into Saturday’s game against the Vegas Golden Knights. He found the back of the net from the high slot on a power play, leading to an outpour of excitement as he punched the glass and embraced his teammates. Bedard acknowledged the significance of his goal, stating, “It’s always nice to score. Whether it’s your first career goal or your first goal in a particular setting, it’s always a great feeling, especially when it happens quickly.”
Reese Johnson, another player on the team, described the moment as “special,” considering it was Bedard’s first game at the United Center. In the history of the Blackhawks, only Eddie Olczyk scored at a younger age in a home opener back in 1984. Bedard’s goal perfectly suited the occasion, as it followed a tribute to late Hawks Chairman Rocky Wirtz, adding a touch of sentimentality to the game. Although the night ended in a 5-3 loss for the Blackhawks, the score may be irrelevant in future discussions among fans who will undoubtedly remember Bedard’s memorable moment. When reflecting on the game, Bedard expressed his belief that he would remember the experience as a significant moment in his life.
Now, let’s take a closer look at six key takeaways from Saturday’s game:
1. Connor Bedard’s Unforgettable Goal
The Vegas Golden Knights seemed to forget about Bedard during his power-play goal, allowing him to drift unmarked into the high slot. Taylor Hall managed to find the puck in a scramble and promptly fed it to Bedard, who delivered a powerful shot past Adin Hill. Bedard acknowledged the rare opportunity, saying, “You don’t often get that kind of open space, so I just tried to make the most of it and hit my mark.”
2. Bedard’s Remarkable Feats
At just 18 years and 96 days old, Bedard became the second-youngest player in Blackhawks history to score in a home opener. Only Eddie Olczyk achieved this at a younger age back in 1984. Bedard also joined the ranks of Stan Mikita and John Harms as the only other teenagers to score in a home opener for the Blackhawks. Additionally, Bedard’s goal broke records, becoming the fastest home-opener goal by a teenager in NHL history and the fastest home-opener goal by any Blackhawks player since 2014.
3. The Memorable Atmosphere
The fanfare surrounding Bedard’s first home game was not just for the fans. Bedard, along with defenseman Kevin Korchinski, experienced the overwhelming excitement of their first home game. Bedard received the loudest ovation during player introductions, and the energy in the building was palpable. He expressed his appreciation for the passionate crowd, stating, “It was electric in there. It was cool for me and all the guys. We drew energy from that, and it was great to get an early goal and lift the crowd even more.”
4. Nicolas Roy’s Game-Changing Goal
In the third period, Nicolas Roy scored a crucial goal just 13 seconds in, deflating the home crowd. Bedard admitted that the goal was his fault and took responsibility for the team’s slow start in the period. Despite the close nature of the game, Bedard recognized that small moments like these can make all the difference in the end.
5. Line-up Changes and Adjustments
Taylor Raddysh replaced Ryan Donato on the top line alongside Bedard and Hall. While the lines may change again in the future, this adjustment was significant as Donato moved to the fourth line. The coaches sought to utilize Donato’s faceoff skills on the fourth line, while Raddysh’s size and defensive improvement made him a suitable candidate for the top line. Bedard praised Raddysh’s skills, describing him as a talented player with a keen understanding of the game.
6. The Western Hockey League Connection
Before the game, Bedard highlighted a unique connection he shared with seven members of the Vegas Golden Knights: they all played in the Western Hockey League (WHL). Bedard, along with players like Keegan Kolesar and Adin Hill, is an alumnus of the WHL. This connection adds an intriguing layer of familiarity and friendly competition to the game.
As Bedard’s journey with the Chicago Blackhawks unfolds, fans will continue to eagerly anticipate his future contributions to the team and his potential to create more memorable moments at the United Center.
Sarah Anderson dives into the fast-paced world of NHL hockey. Her coverage includes game analysis, player spotlights, and the latest news from the ice. Sarah’s dedication to the sport ensures that hockey enthusiasts stay informed about the NHL’s thrilling action.