Pats' Connor Bedard named WHL rookie of the year

Connor Bedard, shown in a handout photo playing for the Regina Pats. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Keith Hershmiller

Regina Pats forward Connor Bedard has been named the Western Hockey League’s (WHL) 2021 Rookie of the Year.

Bedard, the first player in WHL history to be granted exceptional status, was announced as the winner of the Jim Piggott Memorial Trophy on Wednesday.

The 15-year-old centre earned the honours after leading all first-year players in scoring, registering 12 goals and 16 assists in 15 games. He led all rookies in goals, points, shots on goal and power play points in 2021.

“Coming into the season it was a goal of mine to be Rookie of the Year. Being able to win it, especially with all the other rookies that had such great seasons, is really special and exciting,” Bedard said.

“I’m looking forward to the upcoming season, as I can’t wait to get back to Regina with my teammates and finally play in front of our fans, who I’ve heard so much about.”

Bedard left the Central Division hub in Regina mid-season to join Team Canada at the IIHL U18 World Championship in Texas, where he took home a gold medal.

“It’s another acknowledgement of who he is and what he’s done to this point in his young career as a person and player, and he’s being rewarded for it,” Pats head coach Dave Struch said.

“There’s going to be little victories like this throughout his career and they’re all part of his development. This will be one of those things for him to build on.”

The North Vancouver product was selected first overall in the 2020 WHL draft. Bedard is the sixth player in Pats history to be named WHL rookie of the year.