CJHL’s Top Defenceman for 2019-20 goes to Sherwood Park Crusaders’ (AJHL) Michael Benning

CALGARY, Alta. – The Canadian Junior Hockey League announced Monday that Michael Benning of the Sherwood Park Crusaders (AJHL) has been selected its Top Defenceman Award recipient for 2019-20.

Benning earned the honours over fellow CJHL Top D-man finalists Akito Hiroshe, Salmon Arm Silverbacks (BCHL); Brett Thorne, Carleton Place Canadians (CCHL); Mattais Salem, Espanola Express (NOJHL) and Sam Duchesne, Trenton Golden Hawks (OJHL) after a national voting process completed by each of its 10-member leagues across the nation.

He previously earned AJHL outstanding defenceman accolades, taking home the W.G. (Bill) Scott Memorial Trophy, which recognizes the defensive player who demonstrates the greatest all-round ability in the position.

The 18-year-old rearguard hails from St. Albert, Alta., and led all AJHL blueliners in points (75) and assists (63) while finishing 13th overall in league scoring.

Averaging 1.4 points-per-game, he entered the AJHL Record Book slotted tied for third all-time, for most assists in a single season, by a defenceman with his 63, while also earning North Division All-League laurels on the point.

The second-year Crusader was twice recognized as the AJHL Defensive Player of the Week and picked up five Star of the Game nods.

Benning was tabbed 57th overall, among North American skaters, by NHL Central Scouting in their final 2020 Draft Rankings.

Earlier, he skated for Canada West at the 2019 World Junior A Challenge as well as with Team AJHL at the 2019 Junior Club World Cup in Sochi, Russia, last August, and helped lead Team West to victory at the 2020 CJHL Prospects Game in Hamilton, Ont.

Having committed to the attend the University of Denver (NCHC) on NCAA Division I scholarship, Benning is slated to join the Pioneers hockey program in time for the 2021-22 campaign.

With files from: Charla Flett, Vice-President, Communications (AJHL)

Photo credit: targetphotography.com