(Chicago) Connor Bedard participated in his first preseason game with the Blackhawks on Thursday, and Chicago fans were ready to cheer on the very first overall pick in the last draft.

The first two levels of the United Center were virtually full for this game against the St. Louis Blues. The team had closed the last balcony.

Bedard, originally from North Vancouver, had two assists in a 2-1 victory. Andreas Athanasiou and Philipp Kurashev scored in the victory, as did Robert Thomas for the Blues.

Head coach Luke Richardson placed Bedard in a line with Taylor Hall and Ryan Donato. The rookie received the loudest reception when his name was called before the initial faceoff – which he won.

The Blackhawks were 26-49-7 last season. They took advantage of a surprise victory in the lottery for the first pick and thus chose Bedard.

He totaled 71 goals and 72 assists in 57 games in his final season with the Regina Pats, the best point total in the WHL since 1995-96.

He was named player of the tournament when Canada won gold at the world junior hockey championship in January.

The 18-year-old British Columbian has been compared to Connor McDavid and Sidney Crosby.

“He’s not coming into the league as an unknown,” Richardson said. The players are ready, which will present challenges for him.

“But it also gives him opportunities when players will try to do too much at his expense. Everyone knows he can shoot on goal, but he can also make plays and see the action well. »

It was a good challenge for Bedard, against a roster comprised mainly of players with NHL experience.

“I was talking to my dad today, and I said, ‘I’m going to play at the United Center and it’s pretty unreal,’ Bedard said. It’s big to see the fans and everything else. And playing against several players who are trying to make it in the NHL and others who have played in the NHL. »

“It will be a good challenge. It’s something good to get used to and build from, so to speak. »