Stars coming to Kelowna
Jamie Benn and the Dallas Stars will be spending Halloween in Kelowna.
The Stars, captained by the former Kelowna Rockets’ sniper and record-holder, are staying in the Okanagan for a couple days between games in Vancouver and Winnipeg. The NHL team will practice at Prospera Place today and possibly again on Wednesday, though the ice sessions won’t be open to the public at the request of the Stars.
Dallas played in Vancouver on Monday and next faces the Jets in Winnipeg on Thursday.
This type of layover in Kelowna isn’t unprecedented, with the Detroit Red Wings doing the same in March 2010 — albeit with public access to two practices that attracted close to 10,000 hockey fans combined.
The Anaheim Ducks also sought refuge in Kelowna this spring, escaping Edmonton in the midst of their second-round playoff series there in May. Anaheim practised twice here, without opening the doors to the public.
Benn, from Victoria, played two seasons for the Rockets and led Kelowna to a WHL championship in 2009 when he set franchise records for goals (13) and points (33) in a single playoff year.
The goal record now belongs to Reid Gardiner — he scored 15 times in this year’s playoffs — but Benn’s points mark still stands, with Gardiner (2017) and Leon Draisaitl (2015) both topping out at 29.
Benn has gone on to a successful pro career as a five-time NHL All-Star, winning the Art Ross Trophy as the league’s leading scorer with 87 points in the 2014-15 season.
A power forward, Benn has also won two gold medals in international competitions while representing Canada at the 2009 worldjunior tournament in Ottawa and the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
Dallas is coached by Ken Hitchcock, who got his start with the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers (1984-1990), and the Stars’ roster also features defenceman Dan Hamhuis, from Smithers, who played junior for the Prince George Cougars before patrolling the Vancouver Canucks’ blue line for six seasons (2010-2016).