When Jamie Benn of Central Saanich scored the winning goal Thursday in Canada’s opening 3-1 men’s hockey victory over Norway at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, dad Randy Benn could relate.
He has been there himself in international sport, with gold medals in softball from the 1976 world championships in New Zealand and 1979 Pan American Games in Puerto Rico.
Of the 23 NHL stars on the Canadian hockey team, Jamie is the only player who has a father with medals in international sports.
But on Thursday, Randy was like any other nervous hockey dad across the country — albeit with an NHLer son in the Winter Olympics.
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“It’s fantastic . . . unbelievable . . . to get a goal on a team in which it’s hard just to get ice time,” he said. “I’m so happy for Jamie. He’s wanted this so badly and has worked so hard for it.”
The texts, emails and phone messages started flowing into the Benns’ Saanich Peninsula home as soon as Jamie made it 2-0 for Canada in the second period with a withering wrist shot into the top of the net.
“He’s not my son anymore, he’s everybody’s son across Canada,” chuckled the elder Benn.
Nobody understands the emotional differences between playing for club and country better than the Benns. “This is not just another game anymore,” said Randy. “This is the world stage.”
Jamie, 24, came out of Peninsula minor hockey and the Peninsula Panthers and Victoria Grizzlies junior teams to captain the Dallas Stars, despite being a mid-range draft pick in the fifth round.
Jamie, whose teammate and brother Jordie plays defence for the Dallas Stars, asked that his family not go to Sochi. They understand why and it had little to do with security concerns.
“Jamie is over there on business,” said Randy. “This means so much to him and he just wants to concentrate.”
But the Olympic Games just naturally come with distractions, not all of them bad. In his post-game interview on CBC-TV, Jamie said he is enjoying meeting athletes from other sports and that it is “pretty cool to see them going about their business, too. I’m taking this tournament all in, being a first-time Olympian.”
At the legislature, Gary Holman, MLA for the Benns in Saanich North and the Islands, stood up to congratulate Jamie on his goal.
Jamie is the fifth Island hockey player to play in the Winter Olympics and is attempting to become the first to win a medal since Kent Manderville at Albertville in 1992. Rod Brind’Amour of Campbell River and Russ Courtnall of Victoria were fourth at Nagano 1998 and Sarajevo 1984, respectively. Frank Fredrickson, also a member of the 1925 Stanley Cup champion Victoria Cougars, won gold when ice hockey was oddly included in the Summer Olympics at Antwerp in 1920.