Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Bennett Back Home during Team's Trip to California

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Bennett Back Home during Team's Trip to California

Article excerpt

LOS ANGELES - On any given Saturday afternoon in the summertime, Beau Bennett can probably be found at Manhattan Beach.

He won't be lounging in the sun, or casting into the surf, but playing volleyball in the sand with his buddies. For hours. It's the off-ice workout of choice for the California kid who scrapped roller hockey for ice hockey at age 15 and has chased it all the way to the NHL from nearby Gardena, Calif.

"We usually play this game called Ace. It basically goes from three-on-three all the way up to six's. If we get enough players we'll play two's," said Bennett. "It's a good workout."

Bennett doesn't come from a long line of ice hockey players. But that classic support system was there. His father, Kirk Bennett, coached him in roller hockey when he was younger, and, to give mom a break now and again, would drive Beau and his brother on a rainy day to nearby El Camino College. There they would play roller hockey. For hours.

"You could go under the parking structure and still play, still get traction on the wheels," said Kirk Bennett, who swung by the Toyota Sports Center for Penguins practice Thursday. "Hours. I mean, we'd be underneath there until she called us to say dinner's ready."

Concrete is everywhere, and the sun is almost always shining: "You could play almost 365 days a year outside," said Kirk Bennett.

That background in roller hockey created a foundation of a skill set that propelled Beau Bennett to be a first-round draft pick of the Penguins in 2010, the year the draft happened to be held in L.A.

"That's basically how it all started," said Bennett. "Once everyone started to transfer over to ice I played both. Once I hit 15, I gave up roller and committed fully to ice."

He has fought through some injury riddled seasons and was briefly sidelined by a freak injury this October, but has finally, just maybe, put that behind him for a while.

Bennett's current home is on his off-wing on the left side of the third line. He's constantly prodded by the coaching staff to make sure his "compete level" is high. That's not a knock on effort, but a reminder to stay engaged to be most effective. …

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