Recruit Wade Bennett Looks Forward To DU

(Left) Wade Bennett will be reunited with his younger brother Beau next season at DU

From: Wichita Falls Times Record News
by Zach Duncan

Wade Bennett's hockey future looks bright. The Wichita Falls Wildcats [NAHL] mid-season acquisition has provided versatility with his ability to skate both as a forward and defenseman.

Bennett is also headed next year to the University of Denver, a storied program that has won seven NCAA national titles, including the 2004 and 2005 championships.

But the 20-year-old Bennett doesn't even own bragging rights in the bedroom at his house in Gardena, California. His brother Beau, younger by 18 months, was the Pittsburgh Penguins' first-round pick in the 2010 NHL draft.

"It was an exciting time for our family," Bennett said of the experience, which was enhanced because the draft was held 20 minutes from his family's home at the Staples Center. "Even my grandma, who is 90 years old, went."

Bennett's grandmother is behind the family's hockey influence. A long time ago, she moved from Winnipeg to the Los Angeles area and spread her passion for the game to her son and grandsons.

Wade wasn't in a beneficial situation with the Coquitlam Express, the British Columbia Hockey League team he was traded to earlier this season. Bennett said it was "overwhelmingly obvious" his current situation needed to change.

"I got a call from his agent, who said he might want to go and play stateside again," Wildcats coach Mark LeRose said. "We did our homework on Wade Bennett."

In 18 games with the Wildcats, Bennett has scored three goals and played steadily on the blue line. Most of the time, he's used as a defenseman, but he can play up top without any notice. Last Friday's 3-1 loss to Texas was a prime example. Since suspensions shortened the Wildcats' bench, LeRose used Bennett at both positions on a shift-by-shift basis.

"I really try and study the game," said Bennett, who considers himself a defenseman who can play forward. "When coach is drawing up a play or situation, I try not only to look at my little 'X' on the board.

"I try and see where everyone's supposed to be or supposed to go. That way, if I do get in a situation when I'm switched, then there's not really any transition time."

Bennett's favorite highlight this season was centering a line and scoring a goal in the Wildcats' 4-2 win on Feb. 5.

"It brought back a lot of memories," Bennett said. "That play happened a lot when I was younger, and just being able to see it at a higher level, it was pretty cool."

As for his choice to return to the United States and play in a league that's a slight downgrade over the BCHL, he shows no regret.

"It's been one of the best decisions I've ever made," he said. "It hasn't disappointed."

Bennett is also thankful to have a brother at his disposal when he needs advice. Beau was the highest-selected California born-and-trained player in NHL draft history.

They played on the same youth hockey teams every other year, but Wade insists they never held competitions to see who could score more goals.

"It's weird, because we have a relationship where hockey's a fun game, but once it's off the ice, it gets off the ice," Bennett said. "I have some traits that benefit him in certain situations. And I can talk to him about what I maybe need to work on to get better."

Beau Bennett is staying at Denver at least one more season, so Wade will wear a Pioneers' jersey along with his younger sibling next fall.

No doubt two Bennetts are better than one, but both brothers have already proven they don't need each other to flourish [read entire article].

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