Skip to main content
The Official Site of the Calgary Flames

UP TO THE CHALLENGE

Bennett the perfect fit for what should be physical series against Ducks

by AARON VICKERS @aavickers / calgaryflames.com

One pro game on his resume.

Nothing but adrenaline.

Sam Bennett's first foray into the Stanley Cup Playoffs was memorable for all the right reasons.  

"I was just excited to be called up and to be around the team, and then to be thrown in it was pretty incredible," the Flames forward recounted. "I was in awe. It was an amazing feeling. It's just excitement, adrenaline. You're really just trying to control those emotions.

"And just worry about playing your game."

Oh, he did.

Bennett, who shrugged off shoulder surgery and a year buoyed by a lengthy rehabilitation before a short stint with Kingston Frontenacs of the Ontario Hockey League, made the most of a season seemingly scrapped by a torn labrum in his left shoulder.

His Frontenacs swept out of the OHL playoffs, Bennett suited up in Calgary's season-finale at Winnipeg (recording his first point 33 seconds into his first shift), and prepped for playoffs.

Thrown into the mix, the No.-4 pick in the 2014 NHL Draft dressed for 11 games and scored the first three goals of his NHL career.

"Sam was flying out there," assistant GM Craig Conroy said. "He was in on forechecks, finishing checks … anything you could ask him to do he was doing. And then when you think back, it's just one of those where you're like, 'he didn't even get to play any games and was hurt all year,' but he didn't miss a beat.

"He was one of our better players."

Bennett finished his run with four points, eight minutes in penalties, and 15 hits while averaging 14:01 of ice time.

Much of the same is expected of him when the puck drops on Game 1 in Calgary's first-round series against the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday.

"He's an in-your-face kind of player," centre Matt Stajan said. "He can play that type of style when he needs to. He's got some skill and speed. He's got that grit. We've seen a lot of that this year with some of his fights. We need him to play that way.

"This is the type of series and time of year when we need that extra little grit and Benny's definitely a guy that shows he has that.

"I'm sure we'll see it."

Conroy certainly predicts it.

"He's a playoff player," Conroy said. "When you watch it, this is exactly the way he plays. He's going to come and he brings that emotion and he's going to ramp it up. You know it's going to be hard. They have a big team over there. You just expect it.

"For his size, he can hit as hard as anybody in the league.

"He finishes checks, he's got good speed. He's like a little dog on a bone when it comes to the puck. You can't get it away from him. I expect him to have a huge series. I mean, he's looking forward. This is a challenge.

"It seems like he rises to all those challenges."

Bennett's ready to.

The now 20-year-old has past experience in his pocket.

And a readiness to let that excitement fly once again.

"It was tough in the moment to really take it all in," Bennett said. "I think after, I did for sure. I think it was a great experience for me.

"I can use that experience now going into the playoffs this year. I'm just as excited this year as I was back then. 

"It's just something about that playoff feel that brings excitement."

View More