The "slump" is over!
Yes, I used quotation marks because, as opposed to popular opinion, I didn't think Sam was in a slump. Yes, it had been 18 games since he earned a point in the game against the San Jose Sharks, but that doesn't mean he wasn't making an impact. Bennett has always played a hard-hitting, effective game no matter what line he may play on. It just so happened that Jiri Hudler and Mikael Backlund gave Sam the edge he needed last night to help him earn not only a hat trick in the first pleriod, but also one more goal in the final period to notch 4 goals in one game. His point-less streak is finally over. And it went out with a bang!
It took Bennett less than a minute (56 seconds to be exact) to bury his first goal of the game last night. A little more than halfway through the period, he notched another. And, before the end of the opening 20 minutes, Sam Bennett would go down in NHL history as the youngest Flames player to ever earn a hat trick as well as being the third youngest player in the entire NHL to earn that honour. It took this 19 year old about 17 minutes to make history.
And listen to the crowd roar...
It was a well-deserved ovation for a player who is so humble and well-spoken - such a rare quality in someone so young. But Bennett's got it. And the C of Red know it.
Sam's last goal was on November 24th, 2015 against the Anaheim Ducks when he scored a goal and an assist during his 18:31 on ice. In the last game against the San Jose Sharks, Sam earned an assist in his 16:03 of ice time, but he sat at a -4 rating. Who could have predicted that the 19 year old from Ontario would come back in such a big way?
The first goal was a sneaky snipe from the slot in front of the net, his second was tallied after he went five-hole, and his third hat trick goal came after the puck pinballed off one of the Panthers defensemen. As if that wasn't enough, with only 24 seconds left in regulation, Bennett added one more for good measure for a total of four goals throughout the game.
During his first intermission interview with Roger Millions, Sam's smile beamed as Roger handed him his "first hat trick" puck.
With three goals in the first period, and another goal in the final few seconds of the game, Sam Bennett made a lot of history last night. The last time one Flames player notched 4 goals in one game was in 2003 when Jarome Iginla took that honour on February 23rd of that year. It's been over two years since a rookie has scored a four-goal game. Tomas Hertl was the last to hold that honour on October 8th, 2013.
Lastly, as explained on the Flames website,
"Bennett is the youngest player in Flames history to get a hat trick, at 19 years, 207 days, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Jim Peplinski, at 21 years, 24 days, set the previous record as part of a four-goal game on Nov. 17, 1981, against the Winnipeg Jets. Bennett is the sixth rookie in Flames history with a hat trick, joining Joe Nieuwendyk, Brett Hull, Matthew Lombardi, Josh Jooris and Gaudreau."
Congrats to Sam Bennett on a history-making, slump-ending, epic comeback last night at the Saddledome!
Go Flames Go!