Benedetto hot in the Heat’s crease

Vince Benedetto has been an important addition to the Chase Heat. Since joining in early October, the Edmonton native has earned a game star four times.

Peter Kalasz Photography

It didn’t take long for Vince Benedetto to develop a strong bond with his Chase Heat teammates.

“I’m a pretty social guy. Arriving a little late, it’s not too hard for me to connect with the boys,” says the Edmonton native. “It’s been really good so far. All the boys have been awesome. I got here about a month ago and nothing but good things.”

The 20-year-old goalie joined the Heat from the Red Lake Miners in the Superior International Junior Hockey League. Heat coach Brad Fox was able to snag Benedetto since the Miners had an “exceptional” 20-year-old goalie and couldn’t carry two. The Heat reached out through a liason they had with the Miners and made it work.

“Any time you can get a quality 20-year-old goaltender in this league, it makes all the difference in the world,” says Fox, after his team picked up a 6-2 road win against Grand Forks with Benedetto between the pipes. “They add to the win column for you.”

Benedetto has stolen three to four games for the Heat, which Fox says, “that’s worth its weight in gold. You can’t put a price tag on that.”

The opportunity to handle a heavy workload was something the goalie didn’t want to pass up.

“Nothing but good things so far, I’m loving it,” says Benedetto, who is 6-3 with a 2.63 goals against average and .929 save percentage. He has earned game star for the Heat four times already.

“We have been playing awesome as a team. Offence is great, defence is great. We have been connecting really well out there,” says Benedetto. “The team has been playing really well in front of me. I have to give a lot of credit to the boys. They have been making it really easy for me back there.”

Benedetto has been impressed with the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League (KIJHL), saying it is comparable to the SIJHL.

“I was very surprised coming out here, the skill level is unreal,” he says. “Nothing but good things about the league. Top notch.”

At five-foot-11, 175 pounds, Benedetto says quickness is his strength and puck tracking. He has good vision and because of his size, tries to play higher out. Idolizing Jonathan Quick, Benedetto tries to play similar to the two-time Stanley Cup champion. He loves to play the puck, which is essential to the Heat’s break out, especially defenceman.

An area that Benedetto, or Benny to his teammates, works on to improve is his rebound control and calmness in goal. In the short time with the Heat, he has adopted the inner drive to chase their goal of winning the Okanagan Conference, then the KIJHL.

“Fox our coach has been saying it since day one, since I have been here,” said the well-spoken Benedetto. “It’s going to be a battle to win the conference. We can do that. That would be unreal to bring that back to Chase. I think we have an unreal group of guys.”

What Fox loves about Benedetto is how composed he is in goal. Fox described Benedetto as very methodical and understanding when to challenge shooters and when to play deep.

“He pushes pucks away. The rebound control is exceptional,” says Fox. “He battles hard for rebounds. The poise is amazing. He has got the same demeanour all the time. That’s a great quality in a goaltender.”