Join Mr. Kevin Lakes as he catches up with KES Alumnus Brandon Benedict '98 in the latest edition of Connect, Converse, Catch-Up!
Brandon Benedict is at home.
Brandon returned to the Annapolis Valley in 2018 after an illustrious professional hockey career in Europe. However, seeing him in front of the Valley Junior A Wildcats delivering a pre-game talk, it’s evident he has found a professional “home” as well.
The dressing room goes silent when he enters, and he lays out the strategy and the attitude he expects from the young men. “No passengers tonight boys! Everyone “on the rope” for 60 minutes!,” he says with authority and credibility. There is respect and enthusiasm in the room, and the players go on to take a 3-1 win over the visiting team from the South Shore.
Benedict, who remains the all-time leader scorer in Halifax Moosehead history, followed his Junior career with an exemplary four-year run as a member of the Acadia Axemen. He then went on to play multiple seasons professionally in Texas, Manitoba, Denmark, England, and Ireland.
Mooseheads Alumnus Brandon Benedict drops the puck at Game 4 of the 2019 Memorial Cup
“I have great memories of those years,” says Brandon. “I played for organizations that treated me well and I met my wife while paying in Belfast.”
Brandon’s hockey journey started at the old Brooklyn Arena, where his family is well known for their hockey abilities. Brandon came to King’s-Edgehill for Grade 8-10 and was phenomenal from the beginning, leading the Metro High School Hockey League in scoring as a Grade 8 player. By Grade 10, his statistics were extraordinary as he scored 61 goal and had 91 assists in 65 games.
He was ready for “the Q!”
Benedict (#26) with the Belfast Giants
“He came to KES, when I was a young coach,” says Mr. Chris Strickey. “I didn’t realize how special he was as a leader until ten years later and there still was no one to match his total team focus and that will-to-win. I thought players like that came along once a decade, but I was wrong. I waited 25 years for the next one and I have her this year – Abby McCarthy.”
Ironically, but perhaps not so surprisingly? Abby is also from Windsor and is distantly related to Brandon. “It was really cool when Brandon came out to practice,” says Abby. Abby was flattered to hear Mr. Strickey had compared her leadership skills to him. “I’m kind,” she says, ”but I tell people when they need to get better,” she adds.
It was a pleasure to see Brandon giving back to the game and continuing his hockey journey as a coach. Through a family connection, I had the opportunity to learn that Brandon’s reputation in the hockey world runs deep. His roommate during a successful playoff run was Murray Harbour, P.E.I. native, Thatcher Bell, a Vancouver Canuck Draft Pick in 2000.
Coach Benedict with the Valley Wildcats
“’Benny’, was always a leader in the room,” says Bell. “Not just a ‘rah- rah’ guy, but someone that would then go out and back it up. When I think of him, I think of his leadership. He was the kind of guy that could help the team in many ways, in many roles.”
Brandon Benedict is back in Nova Scotia, making his living as a hockey professional. He’s still in a room, leading a group of young players with dreams of hockey success in their junior careers and beyond the ice.