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GENE'S BLOG: Family Day Fun

In his latest blog, Gene Principe writes about forward and Edmonton product Tyler Benson, who scored his first career NHL point over the weekend

by Gene Principe /

Tyler Benson wasn't sure what they were going to do. Tyler has the day off. The same goes for brother Cole, mother Leonora and father Kevin. 

A chance for the Bensons to hang out and do whatever they wanted and how appropriate that today, Monday, was also Family Day. 

"It's been a while since I've actually been home (for Family Day)," said Benson. "It just seems like I've been away most of the time. It will be nice to just hang out." 

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Along with hanging out, I'm sure the Benson family would spend some of the day reliving a moment that had to feel good for all of them but especially for Tyler. It came at the 15:01 mark of the second period against Carolina on Sunday. The site was PNC Arena in Raleigh, North Carolina, and the game was the fourth of his National Hockey League career.

"The thing I remember is that I toe picked first," chuckled Benson as he went on to describe picking up his first assist and point in the NHL. 

"Then Archie (Josh Archibald) made a nice play for the goal." 

Your first point in the greatest league in the world. What a rush for anyone, but then add to it the fact that Benson is from Edmonton and plays for the Oilers. That would be another level. 

"There was just a lot of emotion," said the understated second-round pick from 2016.

From the moment he burst onto the scene, setting Bantam AAA scoring records with the South Side Athletic Club and surpassing those set by former Oilers forward Ty Rattie, a lot was planned for the boy from the provincial capital. 

Getting selected by the Oilers 32nd overall in his draft year just meant his hometown team would be keeping an even closer eye on where his hockey would take him. 

"This has all been surreal," said Benson during the second intermission on Sportsnet. 

However, along the way he had to keep it real because for a while the only luck Benson had was bad luck. 

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If you've followed Tyler's time with the Oilers organization, you know his bumps in the road have been more like potholes, but the more he faced the stronger he got. 

"Those were definitely tough times," explained the forward, "but once I was done going through that period, I just kept working hard. My dream was to be with the Oilers." 

Dream achieved the night he played his first NHL game and lined up against Patrick Marleau and the San Jose Sharks. 

Welcome to the NHL, Tyler, and to all those that helped him along the way, including his mom and dad plus his older brother. 

"I think my brother Cole is the key reason I'm here," said the younger Benson. "I used to go to all of his hockey games and he was my biggest supporter along with my parents." 

You don't get anywhere on your own and Benson understands that. The early morning practices, the sacrifices for the sake of hockey, the commitment and compassion needed around you to make sure the dream is alive and well. 

As a kid, Benson's favourite Oilers were Ales Hemsky and Ryan Smyth. 

"I had a chance to meet him," said Benson of Smyth, "and it was just a cool childhood moment." 

After the game, he was looking for his first point puck. It was safe and in the hands of Shawn May from the Oilers media relations department. 

An item that holds true meaning and value to Tyler Benson and one to be seen and talked about as all the Bensons enjoyed a Family Day of fun like no other.

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