Earlier in the month of December, the Philadelphia Revolution found themselves in a memorable and tight contest against the Mid Atlantic Conference’s first-place New Jersey 87s.
Philadelphia was down a man on the penalty kill when the team’s bench full of white jerseys erupted with energy, promising cheers and stick taps against the boards. No, the Revolution didn’t just score a big and timely goal to pump the team up, but rather it was a defensive play that earned praise.
Team captain, Anthony Bench, seemed to come out of nowhere while sliding on the ice to block a shot that also forced the puck out of the defensive zone. It marked the second time in less than one week that Bench displayed a commendable effort to block an opponent’s shot.
Blocked shots seem like a lost art in today’s game, no?
Either way, the humble effort against New Jersey clearly gained everyone’s attention and helped kill off an impressive 87s’ power-play unit. For the record, the Revolution won the game by a score of 3-1.
Now, No. 91 is featured first for the Revolution Spotlight series.
While Bench unfortunately served an extended suspension to start the 2019-20 campaign, his teammates and coaches didn’t hesitate to elect him captain of the Junior A team.
“Every year we have individual player meetings 10 games into the season. One of the questions we ask them is to pick captains for the team,” said head coach Jon Rogger.
“As this was going on, he was still suspended and hadn't played a game for us this season but was still getting votes to be a captain. He has been in our organization for a few years and earned the reputation of being a good leader and mentor to the younger guys. So, about a month ago we made the decision he would be our guy.”
Assistant captain Mark Tosti also commented on Bench’s positive leadership qualities.
“Being teammates with Bench is a comforting feeling,” said Tosti. “You know he’ll always have your back no matter what. He’s a great teammate and a great friend.”
It seems that Bench’s attitude towards his teammates is mutual in the sense of being comfortable.
“It’s a huge confidence boost knowing that the team looks up to you as their captain,” said Bench.
The Yardley, PA native also expressed values he’s learned after taking on captain duties for the first time in his hockey career.
“That motivates me to give them and the rest of the coaching staff 100% day in and day out. I’ve never been a captain before, but I'm definitely learning a lot about what it takes to be one.”
While Bench is a point-per-game skater this season after netting six goals and adding five assists in 11 games played, it seems that his leadership intangibles are truly valued by the organization.
“Every day he brings the same attitude and effort to both practices and games,” said Rogger.
“Anthony is the type of player that we know what we are going to get on a consistent basis. He plays hard, does the little things right and will always stick up for his teammates.”
The center has spent parts of the last four seasons with the organization dating back to U16 and expressed appreciation for Rogger and team president and general manager, Chris Kanaly.
“Playing for Rogger and Kanaly is really something special,” said the captain.
“Over the past few years, they've really helped me develop my game in a huge way. I wouldn't say they've helped me with just one aspect of my game, but I’d rather say they've helped me with every aspect of my game and I wouldn't be the player I am today without them.”
Prior to joining the Revolution, Bench expressed that he always naturally “gravitated” towards hockey growing up compared to playing other sports. The two-way forward actually started off his playing days between the pipes as a goaltender but decided to make the transition to skate out instead.
It’s fair to say that the decision to become a forward has worked out for both he and the Revolution.
Away from the rink, the avid hockey fan is at the gym exercising, golfing, acting as an engineer on cars or riding wave runners once the offseason arrives.
The 20-year-old plans on attending a four-year University and anticipates on lacing up the skates for wherever that respective new locker room might be.
His new home gains a class act teammate while representing the Revolution with pride.
“Being able to skate for the Revolution over the years has been a huge privilege and a big part of my development as a player and a person.”
(The Philadelphia Revolution can be followed on Twitter @RevsJrHockey)