Bedard leads the way for Regina Pats training camp

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Regina Pats training camp is underway at the Brandt Center and Regina Pats forward Connor Bedard is back for his third season with the organization.

“It’s really exciting to be back, you know?” I was pumped for it,” Bedard said. “I think everyone has improved. I’ve only been here a few days, but everyone’s faster, stronger, so we’re super excited.

The Pats will be looking to make a playoff push this year. The team has failed to qualify for the playoffs since the 2018 season. The 2021-22 season saw the team finish with a 27-41 record, finishing ninth in the Eastern Conference. Just outside of a playoff spot.

“I think it’s time for us to get back into the playoffs. It’s definitely a goal for us. You know we don’t want to stop there, but that will definitely be the first goal,” Bedard said.

“It’s not even a question of making the playoffs. It’s just a given. We’re going to set the tone from day one,” veteran forward Cole Dubinsky said.

According to Pats leader and coach and general manager John Paddock, the outlook for the upcoming season is positive.

“For our team to be a playoff team, that includes a lot of things. It could mean different roster moves here over the next three to four months,” Paddock said.

“But our thoughts are to be a very good team.”

The team has already changed rosters this offseason, including acquiring 20-year-old goaltender Koen MacInnes from the Everett Silvertips in May.

“It’s a position and an area that we had to address based on last year. He’s really excited to come here and take this opportunity,” Paddock said.

“I was very excited to come back to Saskatchewan. I’m a boy from Vancouver and we have very rainy winters, so even if it’s minus 50 I’m enjoying the sun,” said MacInnes, who spent the start of his career in the Western Hockey League. (WHL) with the Saskatoon Blades.

“I think we have a very strong defense so if I do my job I think this team could have a really successful season.”

There is no doubt that there will be pressure between the pipes for MacInnes but also up front for Bedard. The 17-year-old became the youngest player in WHL history to score 50 goals and also scored 100 points last season.

“I think (I want) to become a better player all around. Every year I think it’s something I try to improve,” Bedard said.

He also just won a gold medal with Team Canada in August at the delayed 2022 World Junior Hockey Championships.

“It was a lot of fun. Obviously when you win you have a lot of fun and it was such a good group we had and to have a medal now is just an honour,” he said about the experience.

Bedard also noted how playing with some of the best will help him approach the season.

“It’s good to have games, to play against some of the best players in the world and the best players in the country. So I think that has helped me a lot.”

The Pats will wrap up training camp with their annual blue and white game Tuesday night at the Brandt Center.

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