Vince Benedetto stares down a Grand Forks Border Bruin.
Peter Kalasz photos
It had always been Vince Benedetto’s dream to play hockey at a large U.S. college.
That dream has come true as he will play for the University of Nevada Las Vegas Rebels in the American Collegiate Hockey Association Division 1 in 2020-21. There is a lot of excitement for Benedetto and his family because they enjoy visiting and are very familiar with Las Vegas.
“It’s pretty exciting, it worked out good,” says Benedetto, who also got the chance he always hoped for to play in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League (KIJHL), spending a season with the Chase Heat.
After first speaking to Rebels assistant coach Nick Robone in December, his commitment was announced on March 5. They play their home games in the Las Vegas Golden Knights practice facility (City National Arena), which he says is pretty cool. While with the Rebels, the Edmonton native will study business.
Benedetto came to the KIJHL from the Superior International Junior Hockey League after playing for the Red Lake Miners.
Upon joining the Heat, Benedetto played 30 games, earning 16 wins with a 2.69 goals against average and .920 save percentage. In the playoffs, Benedetto had a win in five games with 2.87 goals against average and .902 SPCT. Benedetto loved his time with the Heat.
“It was one of my favourite years of hockey,” he says. “Looking back, it worked out so well that I was able to my 20-year-old year in Chase.”
Benedetto became a better goalie mentally.
“I have always been a technical goalie. I just gained a lot of confidence,” says Benedetto, who praised the Heat organization. “I really gained that from playing quite a bit.”
Head coach Brad Fox says Benedetto brought poise.
“He did the work. When you put in the work, you are going to be rewarded,” he says.
Fox saw that Benedetto enjoyed playing and that was primary versus pressure.
“For a goaltender, that’s probably the most unique quality you can have,” says Fox. “Now you can downplay the pressure.
“The more pressure that he got on him, and the bigger the magnitude of the pressure, whether we were leading or otherwise, it was almost like he flipped a switch,” continues Fox.
Benedetto kept the Heat in many games they got outplayed and earned wins. He took over games.
“He reminded me a lot of – I’m an Alberta boy – the way Grant Fuhr used to handle at the pro level, handle pressure.”
Now the Rebels will benefit from that poise as he lives out his dream over the next four years.