Last Saturday night, Ben Street made his NHL debut with the Calgary Flames. The promising prospect center’s path to Calgary saw stops in Wheeling, West Virginia and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Pennsylvania as part of the Pittsburgh Penguins organization, after an outstanding college career with Wisconsin.
His journey to fulfilling the dream of putting on an NHL sweater began with the British Columbia Hockey League’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks in the 2003-04 season. He registered 34 points that season while playing along side New Jersey Devils center Travis Zajac. Street again suited up for the Silverbacks in 2004-05, registering 29 goals and 68 points in 56 games.
The London, Ontario native went the NCAA route for parts of the next five seasons with the University of Wisconsin Badgers of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association. In 2005-06, Street netted 10 goals and 15 points in 43 games, helping the Badgers win their sixth National Championship in school history. The next season he again lit the lamp 10 times, while adding 7 assists for 17 points in 41 games. He would nearly double his point total the following season in 2007-08, racking up 13 goals and 17 assists for 30 points in 40 games. His 2008-09 campaign was cut short by a season ending injury just four games in, but he returned in 2009-10 and scored the most goals of his college career as he posted 14 goals and 16 assists for 30 points in 43 games, finishing his collegiate career with 93 points in 171 games. During his time in Wisconsin, Street suited up with Joe Pavelski and Adam Burish of the San Jose Sharks, Minnasota Wild defenseman Tom Gilbert, Jack Skille of the Florida Panthers, LA Kings defenseman Davis Drewiske, St. Louis Blues goaltender Brian Eliiot, Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Jamie McBain, Ottawa Senators center Kyle Turris, Ryan McDonagh and Derek Stephan of the New York Rangers, Nashville Predators center Craig Smith, and Edmonton Oilers defenseman Justin Schultz.
While some of his teammates went to the NHL, Street headed to Wheeling, West Virginia to begin his professional career with the East Coast Hockey League’s Wheeling Nailers, the ‘AA’ affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins. With Wheeling, Street compiled 24 goals and 27 assists for 51 points in just 38 games before getting called up to the American Hockey League’s Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins, Pittsburgh’s ‘AAA’ affiliate, where he tallied 12 goals and 23 points in 36 games. Street was an ECHL All-Star, registering an assist in the 2011 ECHL All-Star classic, and was named ECHL Rookie of the Year for the 2010-11 season. His second pro season put him on many NHL team’s radars when he led Wilkes-Barre/Scranton with 27 goals and 57 points in 71 games in 2011-12.
Street’s tenure with the Penguins organization ended after two terrific seasons, as he signed with the Calgary Flames in July. Just as he did in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton last season, Street leads the Flames AHL affiliate Abbotsford Heat in scoring, racking up 12 goals and 31 points in 45 games so far. His strong numbers caught the attention of Calgary as they recalled him last week, and he played a pair of games in a Flames jersey. He did not register a point and was a -2 before heading back to Abbotsford. With the NHL season just one quarter of the way over, Street could see more time with the big club this season.
What makes him special? His 5-foot-11, 200 pound stature allows to to battle physically, while still having great speed and quickness. He likes to shoot the puck, and has a great shot and quick release when he does. The best things about Street’s game are his poise and consistency. He brings the same solid effort to the rink every night, which is the main reason his career has made it to the NHL level. Regardless of whether or not he sees NHL ice again this season, it is almost certain he will get there again in the coming years as he has a very bright future.