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Sam Bennett sent back to junior hockey by Flames

02/21/2015 11:53 EST | Updated 04/23/2015 05:59 EDT
Sam Bennett’s immediate hockey future will be spent trying to help the Kingston Frontenacs maintain their hold on a playoff position in the Ontario Hockey League.

The Calgary Flames on Saturday sent the prized prospect back to junior after Bennett rehabbed from October shoulder surgery.

In two seasons with the Frontenacs, the 2014 fourth overall NHL draft pick scored 54 goals and 131 points in 117 regular-season games.

Kingston is seventh in the OHL’s 10-team Eastern Conference with a 21-24-8 record. The No. 8 Peterborough Petes, who hold the final playoff berth in the conference, also have 50 points but have played two more games than the Frontenacs. Mississauga is ninth with 47 points.

“I’m dying to get my first game in,” Bennett, a six-foot, 181-pound centre, told Calgary reporters a week ago. “I don’t know [where I’m going to be playing] but I’m still counting down the days.”

Instead of the being in the Flames’ lineup on Tuesday in New York to face the Rangers, Bennett could make his OHL season debut Wednesday at Belleville or Feb. 27 vs. Sudbury.

At 32-23-4, Calgary is seventh in the NHL’s Western Conference, tied with No. 8 San Jose with 68 points but holding a game in hand. The ninth-ranked Minnesota Wild are one point back with a game in hand on Calgary and two on the Sharks.

Bennett could still find himself in a Flames uniform for a playoff run as he could skate in nine NHL games without the first year of his entry-level contract kicking in. Calgary couldn't send him to its American Hockey League affiliate in Adirondack, N.Y., because Bennett is 18 and played in the Canadian Hockey League.

Before getting hurt, Bennett impressed Calgary head coach Bob Hartley, who called the native of Holland Landing, Ont., the team’s best forward in a 3-1 pre-season loss to Vancouver on Sept. 27. He had a game-high seven shots and two hits.

Bennett also raised eyebrows with a slippery toe-drag against veteran NHL defenceman Kent Huskins.

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