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.
2013-14: Benning skated in 33 games for Northeastern University as a freshman. He was the second-leading scorer amongst Huskies’ defensemen next to sophomore Colton Saucerman. Benning scored 3 goals with 10 assists and was +2 with 28 penalty minutes. Northeastern finished tied for fourth with New Hampshire in Hockey East in the regular season but did not receive an NCAA tournament berth; falling to the Wildcats, 5-4, in the decisive third game of their Hockey East quarterfinal series.
2014-15: Benning led Huskies’ defensemen with 24 points (all assists) in his sophomore season at Northeastern. After an impressive freshman season he had his ups and downs, finishing +6 with 36 penalty minutes. The Huskies struggled to stay above .500 — finishing sixth in Hockey East — and were swept by Merrimack in the opening round of the league tournament, with both losses in overtime.
Benning is the son of former NHL defenseman Brian Benning and the nephew of Canucks' GM Jim Benning. He is a rugged defensive defenseman with some offensive elements to his game. He has average height but is heavy and strong and can be a devastating hitter. His skating needs work and his overall game must continue to develop during his college career. His ability to step right into the lineup at Northeastern and play a key role in his first two seasons suggests he can be a late-round sleeper.
Benning is in his junior season at Northeastern in 2015-16 and has been a key component of one of the biggest turnaround stories in college hockey. After getting off to a 1-10-2 start the Huskies finished the regular season 16-13-5 and swept Maine in a first-round Hockey East series. With several defensive prospects in the Boston system Benning faces a challenge in securing an entry-level contract. He projects as a solid second or third pairing defenseman with his defensive ability and instincts plus the ability to begin the attack on the transition.