Two Former GMHL Players Sign With the Quad City Storm (SPHL)
One more GMHL alumni is on their protected list but has not signed yetJuly 22nd, 2019 at 10:45AM July 22nd, 2019 3:55PM
Moline, Illinois- On May 13th this year, the SPHL announced it's protected list. The SPHL protected list is a list of thirteen players by each team that protects their playing rights so that those players can only sign a deal with the team that protected them. This list featured four GMHL alumni, including two on the Quad City Storms list. Those two players are: Dalton Mills (Bradford Bulls 2012-2014) who recently signed with the team but also has a tryout with the Utah Grizzlies in the ECHL and Shane Bennett (St. George Ravens 2014-2015) who is still unsigned by the team due to interest at the ECHL level at this time, yet will return to the team if he plays in the SPHL. Both played for the Quad City Storm last season. The Storm have also signed former GMHL player Alex Basey as a free agent, bringing the total to three former GMHL players in the Quad City Storm's system.
Dalton Mills, a leader and a champions journey to professional hockey
Mills joined the Bulls in the 2012-2013 Season, the Bulls inaugural season in the GMHL. Mills was a leader for the team on and off the ice, and was known as one of the hardest workers in the league. Mills reputation earned him the honours of being named the first Captain in the Bulls franchise history. On the ice, Mills was a two-way forward and a workhorse. In his own end, he was defensively responsible, and he created offense on the other side of the ice as well. In his first season with the Bulls, Mills put up 18 Goals 17 Assists for 35 Points in 36 Regular Season Games Played, and 5 Goals 4 Assists for 9 Points in 8 Playoff Games. Although the Bulls didn’t finish high in the standings in 2012-2013, the Bulls, and especially Mills learned a lot in their first season.
Mills returned the following season for the Bulls, and helped lead the Bulls to their best season in franchise history. In the season, the Bulls finished with a franchise best record of 32-6-4 for 4th Place in the GMHL and 1st Place in the South Division. Mills contributed 17 Goals 36 Assists for 53 Points in 37 Regular Season Games to the Bulls. The Bulls weren’t just satisfied with their Regular Season, and went into the playoffs hungry to win a championship. The Bulls swept their first three rounds consecutively versus Meaford, New Tecumseth, and Temiscaming, before meeting their rivals in the Finals, the Bradford Rattlers. The Bulls would go on to win the series in five games, winning their only Russell Cup Championship in franchise history. Mills helped lead the way to the Russell Cup posting 5 Goals 17 Assists for 22 Points in 15 Playoff Games Played. As a two-year Captain and Russell Cup Champion, Mills was ready to make the next step in his career, and committed to Concordia University, a NCAA III Hockey Program.
Mills struggled a little bit in his first year with Concordia University, posting 3 Goals 4 Assists for 7 Points in 21 Games Played. In his second year with Concordia, Mills faced more adversity, and dealt with injury throughout the season, posting 1 Goal 1 Assist for 2 Points in 14 Games Played. However, Mills was always a hard worker, and bounced back for his last two seasons with Concordia, recording 10 Goals 5 Assists for 15 Points in 27 Games, then recording 7 Goals 8 Assists for 15 Points in 26 Games. In total, Mills posted 21 Goals 18 Assists for 39 Points in 88 Games Played at the NCAA III level. After two seasons of GMHL hockey and four seasons of NCAA III hockey, Mills was ready to take the next step in his career. After working hard all summer, Mills was offered a spot on the Quad City Storm of the SPHL.
Playing in his rookie season out of Concordia College Mills got off to a scorching start to the season, scoring 17 points in his first 24 games before missing an extended stretch to injury. Once healthy he was able to find his initial pace and finished with nine points in the last eleven games of the season, highlighted by a four-point showcase in the finale with Evansville. If he is able to stay healthy for the season Mills could realistically be a 20-goal scorer in his sophomore year. Mills will be attending the Utah Grizzlies of the ECHL training camp as a tryout, however the Storm are looking to having him back next season.
A Veteran with a whole lot of grit
Basey joined the GMHL in the middle of the 2012-2013 Season, signing with the Toronto Moose. Basey was an AAA product of the Peterborough Petes, who brought grit and size to the ice. At the AAA level Basey had a total of 103 PIMS before he made the jump to junior. Basey continued to play with an edge for the Moose, who were lower in the standings at the time, however, the top team in the league took notice of his grit, and decided that he could be an important asset to a team that already had skill. The Bradford Rattlers would acquire Basey from the Moose, and although he played in a limited role, he wasn’t afraid to go perform his duty for the team. The Rattlers would go on to have a historic season, going 42-0-0 in the Regular Season, and winning the Russell Cup Championship, and that’s an experience Basey will always have with him. Basey would spend four more years in the GMHL with six different teams, bringing his experience to each team. His most notable individual season would come in 2015-2016 though, where he would post 39 Points in 33 Games Played, and earning the honour of being named to the GMHL All-Star Game. Basey would play one more season in the GMHL before making the jump to professional hockey, signing in the FHL.
Basey was originally signed by the Watertown Wolves for the 2017-2018 Season, however after three games he was traded to the Danville Dashers where he would spend the next two seasons. Basey would bring his edge to the professional level, recording a total of 269 PIMs in 68 Games Played in the FHL. Most of these PIMs would come in his second season with the Dashers, and this caught the notice of the Quad City Storm Coach Dave Pszenyczny towards the end of the year, who had Basey called up for a loan to the SPHL. The Storms Coach is a firm believer in a physical game, which is Basey’s style of play. "Last year, we had a little more physical team," Pszenyczny said. "This year, we're still going to be physical because I'm a firm believer the game of hockey is meant to be played physical. It doesn't matter if you're a goal-scorer, you can still finish checks.” Basey made an impression, and he was signed back to the team where he hopes to spend the full season with the Storm.
From league MVP to ECHL Interest
Shane Bennett joined the GMHL in the 2014-2015 Season for the St. George Ravens. Bennett was a highly touted player for the Ravens, being drafted in the NAHL in 2012 and USHL in 2013 and having four years of junior experience. Bennett would immediately become the face of the Ravens that year, having an incredible individual season. Bennett would post a total of 53 Goals 55 Assists for 108 Points in 30 Games Played for the Ravens. Bennett would be earn the honour of being named a GMHL All-Star where he one of his shootout goals in the Skills Competition would make it onto TSN’s Bardown segment. Bennett would also be voted as the GMHL’s Most Valuable Player that season with his incredible season. Bennett didn’t stop there though, and helped to lead his team to a deep playoff run as well as the dark horse that year. The Ravens were favourites in their first series, defeating the Niagara Whalers three games to one to advance to the Quarter Finals against the league leading team that year the Tottenham Steam. The Steam were favourites not just in this series, but to win the Russell Cup that year. However, the Ravens would play the upset role, winning the series three games to two. The Ravens moved on to the semi-finals against the Temiscaming Titans which would be one of the most exciting series in the playoffs that year, needing all seven games to finish it, and three games needing overtime. Unfortunately, the Titans would come out on top in game seven before going on to win the Russell Cup Championship over the Seguin Huskies, ending the whirlwind run by the Ravens. Bennett was an important piece in this run though with 16 Points in 15 Games Played for the Ravens. Bennett was then committed NCAA DIII by SUNY Cortland in the off-season for the 2015-2016 Season.
Bennett’s NCAA DIII career would be brief though, playing twelve games for SUNY Cortland before he signed in the SPHL for the Fayetteville Marksmen in the 2017-2018 Season. Bennett would spend half the season with the Marksmen before being traded to the Mississipi Riverkings. Overall, Bennett’s first season in the SPHL was a success posting 37 Points in 55 Games Played. Bennett would return to the Marksmen for the following season, however it would be a rough start though. Bennett spent the first 20 games of the year in Fayetteville and logged only three goals and six assists. Then he was traded to the Storm, and in 34 games with the Storm he shot up the SPHL offensive leader board, burying 14 goals and helping on 16. Bennett is projected to be a top liner for the team next season but has garnered some attention from the ECHL as well. It’ll be interesting to see if Bennett gets some time in the ECHL at the start of next year, however, he already has a spot with the Storm if he needs it.
The SPHL is the fourth highest level of professional hockey in North America, behind the ECHL, the AHL, and the NHL. The SPHL is known for advancing its player through the ranks to each of these leagues, most notable among their alumni is current NHL and Carolina Hurricanes Goalie, Scott Darling. The GMHL is proud to see one of its alumni playing at this level of hockey, and we wish Mills, Basey, and Bennett continued success at the professional level.