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

Life just hasn’t been the same without hockey, especially for one St. Albert family, since the postponement of many leagues due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Matt, Abby and Mike Benning all followed in their father’s footsteps, becoming not only top-level hockey players, but also defencemen.

So when the NHL postponed its season, and Hockey Canada put an end to all its programs, it rocked the Benning family.

Of course for Matt, a defenceman for the Edmonton Oilers, his season was postponed last week.

Abby got handed a heavier toll. In her fifth and final year with the Alberta Pandas hockey team, the U Sports Championship in Prince Edward Island was cancelled the night before it was set to open. The Pandas were set up nicely as the number one seeded team going in to the tournament.

“I didn’t get… the closure,” said Abby. “The feeling of giving it all you got for one last game.”

The same goes for her younger brother Mike who plays for the AJHL’s Sherwood Park Crusaders. As the number one seed in the league, the Cru had a bye in the first round of the playoffs and just prior to the start of their first playoff game, the season was shut down due to the novel coronavirus.

“We led the franchise in points and wins,” said Mike. “We were pretty fired up to get going. We wanted to win real bad.”

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