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Home ice advantage

...Victoria product excited to play in front of friends, family & hometown fans

by Tyson Giuriato @TysonGiuriato / Freelance writer

With a blink of eye, the 2019 Vancouver Canucks Training Camp is over and preseason action begins tonight as the Canucks take on the Calgary Flames in a pair of split squad games, one in Calgary and the other at the Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre in Victoria.

Tonight's game in Victoria will have a little more meaning for Jordie Benn, as he makes his Canucks preseason debut in his hometown.

"It's pretty cool," said Benn. "It's good to knock some rust off tonight and to do it in front of friends and family should be fun."

Benn doesn't know the exact number of friends and family that will be in attendance on Monday, but did say there will be a lot.

Not since 2009 while he was a member of the ECHL's Victoria Salmon Kings has Benn suited up for a game in Victoria. In fact, he scored his first professional goal in the very building he will throw the Canucks jersey on for the first time on Monday.

Video: PREGAME | Benn vs. Flames

"This has all come full circle over the years," said Benn, who is coming off a career high 22-point (5-17-22) season with the Montreal Canadiens. "I was gone for a while and now that I get a chance to come back with training camp here, it's pretty cool.

"I went to my parents house yesterday and hung out with my sister and my niece. It was the first time in a long time I have been at a camp and got to go home and eat a home cooked meal. It's pretty cool, it's fun to be here and hopefully we can put a good show on tonight."

The six-foot-two, 198-pound defenceman has been around the professional ranks for 12 years and this will be his seventh full season in the NHL. He knows the importance of coming to camp in shape and ready to go.

"You know what you're getting yourself into," said Benn when asked what he thought of his first training camp with head coach Travis Green. "The first 20 games of the season are crucial so you have to get ready to go as fast as you can. Camp is only three days and now we are right into preseason. There is not a lot of time to sit around, so you may as well put the work in and get to work. It was a hard camp, but it was good for us."

That maturity certainly has caught the eye of Green, who likes a lot of the characteristics Benn brings to the team.

"He is a real good veteran guy," said Green. "You can just tell he has a calm demeanor, he is confident, knows what he is. He is a real team player. Certain guys you can tell when you meet them, they know what they are, they believe in what they are, and they are confident enough to show it. He has a lot of good qualities that you like in a defenceman."

Benn spent the entirety of training camp paired up with Troy Stecher. The two will not be together on Monday though, as Stecher will suit up in Calgary, while Benn is expected to play alongside Jalen Chatfield in Victoria.

Although their style of play is quite different, there are a lot of similarities between Benn and Stecher. Both are BC boys that grew up Canucks fans, were never drafted into the NHL, and now find themselves playing for their home province team.

"It goes back to having self belief and confidence in yourself," said Stecher. "In our case, we wanted to make the NHL and weren't going to let anything stop us. We took two very different routes. We both started in the BCHL, he went right to pro in the ECHL and I went to college. He worked his way up through the minors and I made the jump to the NHL after college. I am a firm believer that if you are going to make the NHL, someone out there is going to find you, the hockey world is too small now a days."

As for playing together during camp and the potential of playing together again as the preseason rolls on, Stecher likes what Benn can bring to the pairing, which could help him improve the offensive side of his game.

"I have enjoyed it," said Stecher. "He is a very vocal guy and plays hard. I have played with guys similar to him in the past at different levels. It has allowed me to be a little more offensive, knowing that he is going to be a guy that I can rely on back there."

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