St. Albert’s hockey stars chasing NHL dreams together while in NCAA

Click to play video: 'St. Albert’s Savoie, Benning thriving in NCAA hockey' St. Albert’s Savoie, Benning thriving in NCAA hockey
WATCH ABOVE: St. Albert's Carter Savoie and Mike Benning have been lifelong friends and teammates since they started playing hockey. Now, the two NHL draft picks are continuing their friendship and development at the University of Denver. Slav Kornik has their story – Jan 16, 2022

Carter Savoie and Mike Benning have been best friends and teammates for as long as they can remember.

The pair grew up five minutes away from each other in St. Albert. They started playing hockey together at an early age and remained teammates throughout minor hockey.

“He’s been on my team, I think, every year except bantam first-year,” Benning said.

“Me and Mike have always been really close, very much best buddies,” Savoie said.

Benning and Savoie became teammates again when they joined the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s Sherwood Park Crusaders, where they experienced a lot of individual success.

As a defenceman, Benning recorded 136 points in his two seasons with the Crusaders, while Savoie tallied 172 points and 84 goals in his two campaigns.

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READ MORE: Edmonton Oilers take Sherwood Park’s Carter Savoie on Day 2 of NHL Draft

Their success in Sherwood Park helped them realize their dream of being drafted into the NHL. Benning was selected by the Florida Panthers 95 overall in the 2020 draft. Savoie was selected five picks later by the Edmonton Oilers.

The best friends have since continued their careers together at the University of Denver, one of the premiere men’s hockey programs in the NCAA.

“It’s good to have him always by my side because when you come to a place like Denver the expectations are very high,” Benning said.

The duo is now in their sophomore season and again is experiencing a lot of individual success. Savoie has been named a finalist for the NCAA’s Hobey Baker Award, which goes to the nation’s top men’s hockey player.

“A big thing for me is just my physical attributes, so being in the gym lots and working lots was very beneficial,” Savoie said.

Savoie is leading the Pioneers with 12 goals and has 23 points in 17 games, while Benning has eight goals and 16 points in 19 games.

“One of the big factors with my season is just having fun with all the guys around, and actually having a seasons and having fans in the stands,” Benning said.

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READ MORE: Alberta’s Benning family coping without hockey amid COVID-19 pandemic

The two have not only been teammates but roommates during their two years at the University of Denver. Having each other as support on and off the ice has contributed to their success.

“I think we help each other a lot. If we need help in school or whatever. Just anything. Someone to lean on. Pretty much family,” Savoie said.

The Pioneers are ranked in the top 10 in the NCAA and have their sights set on capturing their ninth national championship. For Savoie and Benning, capturing an NCAA title together would be the perfect reward for the years of dedication and hard work they put into hockey together.

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