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Bennett looking to launch after offensive outburst

by Aaron Vickers / Calgary Flames

CALGARY, AB -- Calgary Flames rookie Sam Bennett probably hasn’t thought about his encore.

He’s still basking in the historic performance put forth at the expense of the Florida Panthers on Wednesday.

A hat trick in just over 16 minutes in the first period. A four-goal game by the time the dust cleared.

A busy Elias Sports Bureau tracking the accomplishment, which measured up against greats of Calgary Flames’ past, and more on the NHL landscape.

Much like his city, a phone that has buzzed nonstop since.

“No, it hasn’t stopped,” said Bennett, who became the third youngest in NHL history, behind, per Elias, only Washington Capitals forward Bobby Carpenter (18 years and 227 days) in 1982 and Toronto Maple Leafs forward Jack Hamilton (18 years and 185 days), in 1943. “I’m getting a lot of love and support from my family and friends. It’s pretty cool.”

Nor has the buzz died down.

“He’s a special player,” said Flames forward Johnny Gaudreau, who might know a thing or two about the subject. “I know he was fighting it for a little bit there, but he was doing the right things throughout that whole span. It’s great to see him rewarded.

“It was exciting on the bench there just watching him. I think every single one of his goals were pretty much highlight reel goals. That was really cool. He got the guys going.”

Gaudreau thinks it could be the jump-off point for Bennett.

“I think it’ll get the confidence going,” Gaudreau said. “That will really, really help him. That last game he finally got a goal and hopefully this keeps him going here. He’s playing great for us. He’s been playing great for us all year. Right now he’s just finding the net. It’s good for him and hopefully he can keep it going.

“I think at times throughout the season when you’re finding the net you’re finding the net. My month was December and hopefully his month is January. Hopefully he’ll keep finding the net and help get us some big wins in the next few weeks here.”

Again, he’d know.

Gaudreau had a respectable seven goals and 24 points through the first 34 games (.70 PPG) of his rookie season prior to dropping his first NHL hat trick on the Los Angeles Kings on Dec. 22, 2014. Including that game, the then 21-year-old closed out his season with 17 goals and 40 points (.87 PPG) in his final 46 games.

Flames coach Bob Hartley, who reviewed the game tape again Thursday morning, doesn’t see why a four-goal outing can’t be a launching pad for Bennett.

“The one thing is, you’ve done it once then you can do it twice,” Hartley said. “I’m a big believer in this. It’s the way that he feels. It’s experience. Experience is a combination of successes, of failures. You put all this in the same bowl and suddenly you have experience. Sammy Bennett, before we start talking about experience, he’ll have to have many good and bad lessons in his book. Obviously that’s a real good one that he’ll remember for a long time.”

Bennett is hoping his four-goal game can be the springboard to the rest of his season.

“I hope the goals and points keep coming,” he said. “I think more importantly, just playing the right way. I thought I’ve been playing some pretty good hockey as of late. If I keep playing the right way that’s how I’m going to keep getting lots of ice time and stay in the lineup.

“I think it could be a turning point, for sure. I hope it is with regards to points.

“(But) it is just another game, I guess.”

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