PICTOU COUNTY – Corey Bennett will finish his time with the Pictou County junior A Crushers in coming weeks, but he hopes he’ll see more time on the ice before his junior career ends.
In his third full season with the Crushers, Bennett has been sidelined on two separate occasions due to lower body injuries. He said as his time in junior winds down it has been tough being in the stands.
“Being able to only play half of the games has been tough, but I’ve been trying my best to get back to 100 per cent,” said Bennett. “The biggest thing is to be positive around the room and support the guys and the team the best I can while I’m out.”
Bennett said each of the injuries had nothing to do with each other and that they aren’t recurring injuries. He said in order for him to play the Crushers need to make it through the mini-series as the first round of the playoffs would be the earliest he could play.
Regardless of how many games he has left to play he’s focusing on the positives, as he and four other seniors (Devan Gunn, Andrew Darrigo, Jordan Moore and Cody Squires) will be honoured before tonight’s final regular season game. Bennett came through the Pictou County Minor Hockey Association beginning with atom AAA before playing peewee AAA, major bantam, major midget and then joining the Crushers.
In his 17-year-old season in midget he said he was hoping to make the Crushers lineup, but after playing the opening game of the season he was sent back down to the Weeks Major Midgets. Bennett said that helped in the long run.
“That definitely paid off being sent back to midget even if I was frustrated at the time,” said Bennett. “I had a huge season that year and came up to the junior level more prepared than I would’ve been otherwise with the confidence and skills I acquired that year.”
After joining the team as an 18-year-old Bennett said there has been a number of memories that stand out for him. He said he has always found his junior teams to be like a family, including the coaching staff in Jason Malone, Jeff Green and Chad McDavid. When looking at particular games or on-ice moments though he said Game 6 of the 2011 Bent (Eastlink) Division final in Yarmouth stood out the most.
“That is the toughest building to play in, in the MHL for sure,” said Bennett. “That season we hadn’t won a game there all year and going into Game 6 we knew we had to clinch because anything can happen in a Game 7. They have the most and loudest fans in the league, but that night we came together as a team at the right time and that was a huge win for us, something I’ll always remember.”
Off the ice he said he’s matured in his time with the junior squad. Studying sciences at St. FX he’s learned how to have better time management skills and show responsibility when it comes to balancing things.
“That first year was tough for me trying to balance school and hockey,” he said. “I haven’t taken a full course load since I started, but it’s still been tough driving back and forth for hockey over that time and trying to focus on finishing school work.”
Looking back at his time in junior, the eighth-round pick said although he’s been curious about what it would’ve been like to play away from his hometown that he wouldn’t change a thing.
“My parents and grandparents come to every home game and up until junior my dad used to go to every home and away game,” said Bennett. “It’s nice to have people you know in the stands cheering you on every game and I wouldn’t change a thing if I could do it all again.”
Goals for: 189
Goals against: 176
Vs. Amherst Ramblers
Goals for: 212
Goals against: 146
Record against Ramblers: 3-4
Game time: 7 p.m. at the Pictou County Wellness Centre
Bennett’s junior stats
2012-13 GP 29 G 5 A 9 Pts. 14
2011-12 GP 51 G 18 A 18 Pts. 36
2010-11 GP 51 G 11 A 18 Pts. 29
2009-10 GP 4 G 0 A 0 Pts. 0
2011-12 GP 2 G 0 A 0 Pts. 0
2010-11 GP 10 G 3 A 1 Pts. 4
On twitter: @NGNewsChris