2009-10: After being selected by the Kootenay Ice in the second round (35th overall) of the WHL Bantam Draft, Matt Benning skated for the St. Albert Raiders midget AAA team in Alberta. In 33 games he scored 7 goals with 14 assists and had 32 penalty minutes. The Raiders finished second in the Dodge Division and advanced to the playoff semifinals. In four playoff games Benning had 1 goal and 2 penalty minutes.
2010-11: Benning played for the Spruce Grove Saints in the Alberta Junior Hockey League; maintaining his NCAA eligibility.In 43 games he had 7 assists and 65 penalty minutes. The Saints were the top team in the AJHL, winning 50 of 60 games, and lost just one playoff game in advancing to the AJHL title. In 13 playoff games Benning had 1 assist with 20 penalty minutes. The BCHL’s Vernon Vipers defeated Spruce Grove in seven games in the Doyle Cup series to represent the Pacific Region at the RBC Cup (Canadian junior hockey championship). Benning had 1 assist with 10 penalty minutes in the Doyle Cup.
2011-12: Benning returned to Spruce Grove for a second season with the Saints. In 44 games he scored 4 goals with 14 assists and had 87 penalty minutes. Spruce Grove again won the North Division but were upset by Drayton Valley in the second round of the playoffs. In 11 playoff games Benning scored 2 goals with 1 assist and had 16 penalty minutes. Benning was selected by Dubuque in the 6th round (86th overall) of the USHL Draft and committed to playing for the Fighting Saints in 2012-13. Benning was rated 176th amongst North American skaters in Central Scouting’s final rankings prior to the 2012 NHL Draft and was selected by Boston in the sixth round (175th overall).
2012-13: Benning enjoyed a successful season as part of a talented defense corps with the USHL champion Dubuque Fighting Saints. He scored 10 goals with 16 assists and was +25 with 73 penalty minutes in 57 games. Dubuque had the USHL’s best record, losing just 11 games, and was 9-2 in the playoffs; sweeping Fargo in the best-of-five Clark Cup finals. Benning was +3 with 1 goal, 1 assist and 6 penalty minutes in 11 playoff games. In November he committed to playing college hockey at Northeastern in 2013-14.
Benning is a rugged defensive defenseman. He has average height but is heavy and strong and can be a devastating hitter. His skating needs work and there isn’t much there in terms of offensive or puckmoving ability, but he does have NHL bloodlines and could simply be a late-bloomer. Of couse, there are those pointing to those bloodlines, (Benning is the son of former NHL d-man Brian Benning, and is Boston assistant GM Jim Benning’s nephew) and suggesting that this “surprise” pick was more about nepotism than talent. Matt will get his chance to prove the naysayers wrong this season as he’s expected to have an expanded role with Fargo of USHL.
Benning joins Northeastern for his freshman season in 2013-14. He will likely spend most if not all of his college eligibility in college.