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Local hockey standout goes first in WHL Bantam Draft

Edmonton – Tyler Benson’s record-setting season in the Alberta Major Bantam Hockey League has earned him the top spot in the Western Hockey League Bantam Draft.

The 15-year-old Edmonton phenom was selected first overall Thursday morning by the Vancouver Giants.

“I guess I was a little nervous. It’s pretty exciting though. Once I heard my name up, a lot of pressure was off and now I just know I’m part of the Vancouver Giants. It’s pretty exciting now,” says Benson.

Benson had 146 points, with 57 goals and 89 points in 33 games with Edmonton’s Southside Athletic Club Southgate Lions this season. He also led the team to Alberta and Western Canadian AAA Championships. His exploits on the ice have garnered national attention, but the teenager is staying grounded.

“I just focus on playing hockey and that’s it. This is just, all the media is just an extra bonus I guess. It’s just to get my name out there, but it’s pretty exciting too,” says Tyler.

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“He doesn’t get caught up too much in it. He just enjoys being around the rink and playing with his friends,” says Tyler’s father, Kevin Benson.

There had been discussions about Tyler getting exceptional player status from Hockey Canada and the WHL to play in the league as a 15-year-old, but it won’t happen. Tyler had until February 16th to be granted exceptional status.

Tyler’s older brother, Cole, is a second year centre with the Edmonton Oil Kings, so the Benson family understands the commitment it takes to play in the WHL. Tyler’s dad feels it’s not necessary to rush his younger son through his hockey career, despite his enormous talent.

“I just don’t think you can miss a step. We didn’t apply for it in pee-wee and we didn’t apply for it in bantam,” says Kevin Benson.

The 15-year-old will presumably play for the Southside Athletic Club’s Midget AAA team next season.

Tyler says he doesn’t look too far in to the future. Now that the WHL draft is over he’s going to focus on training and developing his game, one step at a time.

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