NHL hockey fans are well aware of how hard it is to score in this league. The issue has been discussed enough this season that there have even been some “silly” debates about increasing the size of the net. However, Calgary Flames rookie Sam Bennett sure made scoring in the NHL look like an easy task in the Flames’ 6-0 rout of the Florida Panthers on Wednesday night.
Bennett is the first Calgary player to score four goals in a game since Jarome Iginla against the Arizona Coyotes on Feb. 23, 2003; he is also only the third rookie in Flames history to score four goals in a game, as Joe Nieuwendyk did it twice and Jiri Hrdina accomplished the impressive feat once.
A four-goal game is a career highlight for anyone, especially for someone who had not scored a goal in 18 games. What makes this particular performance so impressive is the fact that it came against the red-hot Florida Panthers. The Panthers had been on a franchise record 12-game winning streak until losing in overtime against Vancouver on Monday; however, Sam Bennett single-handedly brought the Florida Panthers back to earth, handing the team its first regulation loss in 14 games.
“I think it’s big for my confidence,” Bennett said after the game. “I knew I felt confident playing in this league and now I think I took another step in the right direction. It’ll just keep building on my confidence.”
The 19-year-old has the right to be feeling confident. Bennett is now the youngest player in Calgary Flames history to score a hat trick, as well as the youngest Flame in franchise history to light the lamp four times in a game. The previous hat trick record was set by Jim Peplinski in 1981 against the Winnipeg Jets, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
It pains me to say this, as an Edmonton Oilers fan, but the Calgary Flames possess a dangerous young core of talent. While Wednesday night was certainly memorable for Bennett, this is only the beginning of the budding superstar’s career.
Sadly, Sam Bennett was on the bench of my season-long fantasy team. However, I feel good about my decision to pick him in a keeper league format…
Featured Image Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports