It’s the moment we have all been waiting for.
The 2021-22 Canadian Hockey League season is officially underway and will be brought to a national audience Saturday as part of the league’s exciting new broadcast rights partnership with the CBC. The festivities begin with a bang too as the Prince Albert Raiders head to Regina to take on the Pats and 2023 NHL Draft favourite Connor Bedard. Puck drop is set for 1 p.m. Mountain time and, to get you ready, here are three reasons why Saturday’s affair is must-see TV:
Whether you’re a fan of the Raiders or a supporter of the Pats, or simply a fan of the game across the board, hockey is back and that is good news. Following an uncertain year of shortened seasons, cancelled championships, and too much time away from the rink, players across the circuit are excited to hit the ice, with their games available to a national audience to boot. In all, Saturday’s showdown marks the first of a six-game set available on CBC running through mid-November, and the second meet up of the season between these two squads after Prince Albert plays host to Regina on Friday.
— Hockey Night in Canada (@hockeynight) October 1, 2021
Fans got a sneak peak of the ‘Connor Bedard Show’ last year as part of the WHL’s abbreviated campaign, and will now be up for a full serving. The 2023 NHL Draft headliner, the 16-year-old Bedard made a dazzling entry into the WHL last season, posting an astounding 28 points counting 12 goals and 16 assists in just 15 appearances, good for the lead in team scoring and top spot across the WHL at the time of his departure for the U18s. Following a dynamite debut in which he scored twice – against Prince Albert no less – and garnered national headlines, Bedard then bookended his freshman campaign with his 10th multi-point performance of the season capped by the overtime winner. The first player to be granted exceptional status into the WHL, Bedard’s heroics then continued at the U18s where despite the older competition he pushed the pace for Team Canada in registering seven goals and seven assists for 14 points in seven games to help the Great White North to its first gold-medal win at the tournament since 2013.
— Hockey Night in Canada (@hockeynight) September 28, 2021
NHL bound talent
While all eyes will be on Bedard ahead of the 2023 NHL Draft, the here and now of Saturday’s tilt features at least one player who has already heard his name called on draft day. That is Pats defenceman Ryker Evans, a budding blue-liner who was chosen 35th overall by the Seattle Kraken in the 2021 NHL Draft and who was just recently returned to his junior club following an impressive showing at his first-ever NHL training camp. Originally chosen by Regina in the 2016 WHL Draft, Evans has competed with the club for the past three seasons, reaching new offensive heights in 2020-21 where in 24 appearances he posted 28 points including 25 helpers to lead all WHL rearguards. Saturday’s contest will see Evans as the only NHL drafted talent in the lineup with all three of Prince Albert’s selections – Nolan Allan (Chicago Blackhawks), Kaiden Guhle (Montreal Canadiens), and Ozzy Wiesblatt (San Jose Sharks) – still attending their respective NHL training camps.
After an impressive first training camp with the #SeaKraken, draft choices Ryker Evans and Jacob Melanson now return home to continue their development along with six other prospects.
Read more → https://t.co/69QXxbP9pi pic.twitter.com/PqCivTwbyk
— Seattle Kraken (@SeattleKraken) September 30, 2021