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Lessons from dad help Benn score winning goal to beat Jets

The Stars captain says advice from his youth made him realize the 'chance to make a difference' in big win over Winnipeg

by Mike Heika @MikeHeika / Senior Staff Writer

DALLAS -- Jamie Benn wasn't having a great night Thursday.

The Stars captain this season has had his ups and downs, so he knows a thing or two about introspection. And as he sat on the bench, he thought about something his dad told him when he was young.

Randy Benn was an elite softball player who helped Canada win gold medals at the 1976 World Championships and 1979 Pan Am Games, and he brought his boys Jordie and Jamie up on a heavy dose of old school baseball. So while Jamie was rolling over a "bad" night mixed with the Winnipeg Jets forging a comeback, the words of his dad popped into his head.

 

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"I wasn't having a very good game if we're being honest," Benn said. "I was thinking about it after they scored. My dad taught me a pretty good lesson in baseball: You go 0-for-3, you're bummed, but you have another chance to go up to the plate and get a hit, and there could be a hero. I went out after they scored for that shift and figured, 'This is my chance to make a difference.' That's what I tried to do."

On the faceoff after Luca Sbisa tied the game at 3-3 with 4:46 remaining in the third period, Benn went out and scored a magnificent goal. He charged into the Jets' end of the ice, stole a puck that was being passed along the boards between two players, cut to the front of the net, and deftly backhanded in a shot that would end up being the game-winning goal in a 5-3 Stars victory.

It was everything they make movies about -- an incredible individual effort by "Beast Mode" Benn that allowed everyone in the arena to remember just how good the captain can be.

Video: WPG@DAL: Benn makes move to backhand and scores

"I think you saw right off the faceoff, he jumped from his coverage and he was just hunting the puck. You could see that he was out there to score a goal," said teammate Mattias Janmark. "I noticed it, I thought about it from the faceoff there, 'OK, now he's, he's out there to do some damage.' And I think when our team is at our best, that's how we see him."

Coach Jim Montgomery added: "He was all over the puck. He had the big hit, and I think he was refusing to let us lose. … You can see when he elevates it. I think everybody sees it; it's pretty demonstrative, physically."

The win was big for the Stars. They are now 12-1-1 in their past 14 games and move past the Jets for third in the Central Division at 13-8-2 (28 points). That's astounding when you consider Dallas started the season 1-7-1. This run has not only put the Stars in a playoff spot, they are tied in points for second in the division with Colorado, who has played one game less.

Just as impressive is the fact the team overcame the adversity of losing a 3-0 lead Thursday and found a way to win.

"I think it is good for us to go through spells like that," Montgomery said. "You are going to have to win a lot of different types of games to have success in the regular season, but to also help prepare you for the playoffs, which hopefully we will be a part of."

As it looks right now, they definitely have a shot at a pretty decent season.

Video: WPG@DAL: Montgomery on Benn's effort in Stars' win

"Confidence. I think if you look around the room and everybody is playing with confidence," said Corey Perry, who had three assists on the night. "Everybody wants the puck, everybody's holding onto the puck and is making strong plays. If you keep doing that in this league, you're going to have success. We're finding ways -- if we're down in hockey games -- to regroup and really take charge and find a way to claw back in. Now you give up a lead late, your big guys step up and they lead by example."

Benn has been an interesting study this season. His numbers were disappointing last season with 53 points in 78 games. He was on pace to be much worse than that this year with six points in the first 18 games. He understood the pressure from outsiders. He understood the pressure from people inside the Stars. He understood that a lot of this team's success was riding on his shoulders.

So when he scored an overtime winner in Edmonton Saturday, you could see the relief on his face. And then when he tallied two goals and an assist Tuesday in a 6-1 win over Vancouver, it seemed like he completely had his confidence back.

 

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The trip last week through Western Canada is always nostalgic for the native of Victoria, British Columbia; and facing his brother Jordie a second time in Dallas on Tuesday had to keep those family vibes flowing. So it seemed appropriate that his dad would be in his head Thursday.

Randy Benn has taught many lessons through baseball, and both Jordie and Jamie were accomplished in that sport. When Jamie Benn went to the 2014 Olympics with Team Canada, stories of Randy's exploits came up.

"You hear the old man's stories sometimes, and I think you gain that (pride) just from watching World Juniors or the Olympics," Jordie Benn told The Dallas Morning News back in 2014. "We grew up in a very Canadian household."

Video: WPG@DAL: Janmark on scoring in return from injury

And a household that probably had just as much baseball as hockey, if not more.

"I definitely was that guy who did whatever he could do to help the team, and that's something we've talked a lot about growing up," Randy Benn said back in 2014. "You never quit, you do your best, and your time will come."

Those lessons were important Thursday. After a week with the family environment, it was easy for Jamie Benn to draw on his youth -- and his dad.

"I sat down, thought about my dad, and had a little chuckle there and kept on going with the game," Jamie Benn said of his thought process on the bench in the third period. "Funny things your parents can teach you in life, and that's one of them."

On the scoresheet, the game-winner was credited as an unassisted goal.

Jamie Benn knew better.

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club.

Mike Heika is a Senior Staff Writer for DallasStars.com and has covered the Stars since 1994. Follow him on Twitter @MikeHeika, and listen to his podcast.

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