Tyler Benson will have to wait until next year to add a point in the Western Hockey League to his long list of hockey accolades. The Vancouver Giants’ first overall pick of the 2013 bantam draft suffered an MCL sprain while receiving a check in a game against the Seattle Thunderbirds on Sunday. The injury will keep him out of the seventh-place club’s lineup for the remainder of the regular-season and playoffs.
“It was disappointing when I found out I’d be done for the season,” says Benson, who didn’t register a point in the seven games he played for the Giants as an underage call-up. “I was excited to get the chance to play in the playoffs for the Giants. And I thought the last few games I was starting to get going and that I’d have some good games coming.”
Benson’s injury won’t require surgery. The 5-foot-11, 180-pound winger just needs to go through a four-six week process of rehabbing it back to normal.
“It will take about four to six weeks of rehab,” says Benson, who turns 16 on March 15. “I don’t need surgery. I just need to rehab it. I’ll be resting for a week and then I’ll start rehabbing it, so it will take some time."
Benson is the second significant blow the Giants have been dealt this year due to injury. Team captain Dalton Thrower, who’s a second-round pick of the Montreal Canadiens, could miss the remainder of the season because of an ankle injury.
The Edmonton, Alta., native spent the majority of his 15-year-old season with the Pursuit of Excellence 18U team in the major midget ranks in B.C. His 35 goals and 91 points in 46 contests paint a fairly clear picture on how well he transitioned from bantam to midget.
“I think the season has went well (with the Pursuit of Excellence program),” says Benson. “It has prepared me for next year and I’ve improved a lot over the year.”
It goes without saying that there will be pressure on Benson’s shoulders next year in his rookie season to translate his potential into production. He's not only coming into the league as one of the most hyped top bantam picks in the past decade, but he also broke the AMBHL scoring record last year with 57 goals and 146 points in 33 games in a SSAC Lions jersey.
“I feel a little bit of pressure to have a good year next year,” says Benson. “I know that comes with being a high pick and everything. But I’m just going to continue to work hard and I’m sure everything will work itself out.”
Kelly Friesen is a Buzzing the Net columnist for Yahoo! Sports. Follow him on Twitter @KellyFriesen