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Avon’s Ben Smith finding success north of the border with AHL’s Toronto Marlies

Avon native Ben Smith is the captain and second-leading scorer for the Toronto Marlies, who have the best record in the AHL. (Photo by Christian Bonin/TSGphoto.com, courtesy Toronto Marlies)

TORONTO, February 8 – His name is on the Stanley Cup. He played a full season in the National Hockey League with the Chicago Blackhawks, going with the team into the Western Conference finals.

But today, Avon native Ben Smith is playing in Toronto – in the American Hockey League with the Maple Leafs’ top minor league affiliate the Toronto Marlies.

But Smith, 29, isn’t sulking or brooding. He is playing hard. Through 46 games, he is the No. 2 scorer for the Marlies with 19 goals, 16 assists and 35 points. The Marlies have gone 13-0-1 in their last 13 games and have the best record in the AHL at 35-11-1.

In early January, Smith was named captain for the first time in his career. He was an alternate captain with the Rockford Ice Hogs, the Blackhawks’ AHL affiliate in 2012-13, and at Boston College.

Several years ago, Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock was asked what he expected of veterans assigned to play with the Marlies. Earlier this season, reporter Adam Proteau shared what Babcock said in December 2015 in a feature story about Smith.

“I guess the first thing I want to see is I want you go down (to the AHL) and treat the other people right and show leadership,” Babcock told reporters three years ago. “Find your game and then come up here (to the NHL) and play good. Your obligation as a player is to make sure you’re ready to go mentally and physically.”

Smith told Proteau in November, “You’ve got to be ready for your opportunities and you’ve got to be a good guy and work hard. That’s how I’ve always approached it.”

Read more on Smith’s early-season success with the Marlies.

The Marlies made a visit to Hartford in October to play the Wolfpack and lost 5-3. The Marlies aren’t scheduled to play any more regular season games in New England this season.

Smith grew up in Avon and played his high school hockey at the Westminister School in Simsbury. He played his collegiate hockey at Boston College.

REGULAR SEASON
Year Team GP G A Pts. GWG
2011 Chicago NHL 6 1 0 1 0
2011 Rockford AHL 63 19 12 31
2012 Chicago NHL 13 2 0 2 0
2012 Rockford AHL 38 15 16 31
2013 Chicago NHL 1 1 0 1 0
2013 Rockford AHL 54 27 20 47
2014 Chicago NHL 75 14 12 26 2
2015 Chicago NHL 61 5 4 9 0
2015 San Jose NHL 19 2 3 5 0
2016 San Jose NHL 6 0 0 0 0
2016 San Jose (A) AHL 14 8 2 10
2016 Toronto (A) AHL 5 4 2 6
2016 Toronto NHL 16 2 4 6 0
2017 Colorado NHL 4 0 0 0 0
2017 Toronto NHL 36 2 2 4 0
2018* Toronto (A) AHL 46 19 16 35
NHL Totals 237 33 26 59 3
AHL Totals 220 92 68 160

*As of February 9, 2018

PLAYOFFS

Year, Team   GP G A Pts GWG
2010 Rockford AHL 3 1 0 1  
2011 Chicago NHL 7 3 0 3 1
2013 Chicago NHL 1 0 0 0 0
2014 Chicago NHL 19 4 2 6 0
2016 Toronto (A) AHL 15 2 7 9  
NHL playoff totals 27 7 2 9 1  
AHL playoff totals 18 3 7 10    

 

 

Gerry deSimas, Jr., is the editor and founder of The Collinsville Press. He is an award-winning writer and has been covering sports in Connecticut and New England for more than 30 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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