Former Rockets forward Jamie Benn and the Dallas Stars spent two days in Kelowna this week between NHL games in Vancouver and Winnipeg.                                -Image: Warren Henderson/Capital News

Former Rockets forward Jamie Benn and the Dallas Stars spent two days in Kelowna this week between NHL games in Vancouver and Winnipeg. -Image: Warren Henderson/Capital News

Benn, Stars make two-day stop in Kelowna

Between games in Vancouver and Winnipeg, the ex-Kelowna Rocket and NHL team practise at Prospera

In the spring of 2009, Jamie Benn played a vital role in the Kelowna Rockets’ run to their third Western Hockey League championship.

Nine seasons later, with the memories still vivid, the Victoria-born forward was back on the ice at Prospera Place this week for a pair of practises with his Dallas Stars.

“I was telling the guys, I think the last time I skated on this ice was in overtime (2009) when we won the WHL title,” said Benn, the captain of the Stars. “It was a great experience.”

Following Monday’s game in Vancouver, Benn and the NHL club made a two-day stopover in Kelowna, before heading to Winnipeg to play the Jets on Thursday night.

Now the captain of the Stars, Benn said he’ll always value his time spent in Kelowna with the Rockets’ organization.

“It’s definitely nice being back,” said Benn who scored 79 goals in 107 games over two seasons with Kelowna. “I was excited to come here when I talked about it with Hitch (coach Ken Hitchcock).

“This city and this team turned me into more of a man and a better hockey player,” added Benn. “Time has flown by, I remember living and playing here like it was yesterday. I have so many great memories here.”

As one of just 18 players depicted on the Rockets’ Wall of Recognition inside Prospera Place, Benn clearly left his mark on the organization—even though he remains humble about the recognition to this day.

“I don’t know how I got up there,” Benn joked with a smile. “I must have been nice to the people of this city and this team.”

Stars coach Ken Hitchcock, who knows Kelowna well, was complimentary of both the city and the hometown Rockets.

“This is a big city now, this is a growing city,” Hitchcock said. “It’s very vibrant. You have one of the best rinks in the league, one of the best franchises in the league, and the whole city itself feels like a major league city.”

Hitchcock said staying in a downtown hotel near the rink and having easy access to other amenities this week provided a relaxing and enjoyable environment for his players.

“I think there’s something said when you walk to the rink and you don’t have cars and busses, you walk to dinner, you walk to the rink, you walk to the hotel. I think there’s a lot to say for that, the players get to hang together.”

One player who didn’t expect to be involved in the Stars’ plans this week was former West Kelowna Warriors’ goaltender Tyler Briggs.

Due to an injury to one of their netminders, the NHL club called on Briggs to suit up for Tuesday’s practise, an experience the Kelowna resident won’t soon forget.

“What a cool experience for him,” Jamie Benn said of Briggs, who played for West Kelowna during the 2012-13 BCHL season. “I must be pretty nice when you’ve got (Jason) Spezza, (Alex) Radulov and (Tyler) Seguin coming down and shooting on you. He made some big saves, I think he robbed Spezza pretty bad out there, so we’ll give him a hard time about that.”

To report a typo, email: edit@kelownacapnews.com.


@capnewsports

whenderson@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Kelowna Rockets

Just Posted

Fruit farmers in the Okanagan and Creston valleys are in desperate need of cherry harvesters amid COVID-19 work shortages. (Photo: Unsplash/Abigail Miller)
‘Desperate’ need for workers at Okanagan cherry farms

Fruit farmers are worried they’ll have to abandon crops due to COVID-19 work shortages

Earls On Top at 211 Bernard Avenue in Kelowna. (Google Maps photo)
Downtown Kelowna’s Earls ordered closed after COVID-19 transmission

Earls on Top on Bernard Avenue will be closed from June 18 to June 27

Danny Fulton receives his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Coast Capri Hotel on April 27. The pop-up clinic was hosted by the First Nations Health Authority. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Drop-in COVID-19 vaccine clinic planned for Kelowna

Clinic at Kelowna Secondary School from June 22 to 24 from 1 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Dereck Donald Sears. (Contributed/Crimestoppers)
Murder charge laid in relation to suspicious Kelowna death

Dereck Donald Sears is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Darren Middleton

A motorycle crash has been reported on Westside Road. (Google Maps)
UPDATE: Westside Road reopened following motorcycle crash near Vernon

AIM Roads advises drivers to expect delays due to congestion

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Jeanette Megens
KCR: Volunteering is sharing your story

Kelowna Community Resources shares stories of its volunteers in a weekly column

(File photo)
Penticton not holding Canada Day activities out of respect for Indigenous people

Cities across B.C. are cancelling the holiday after an increased spotlight on Canada’s dark history

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

Most Read