ILIndoor Top 40: Ryan Benesch #16

Ryan Benesch is more than a points producer for a young team in Minnesota. He's a mentor. (Photo: Dan Brodie)
Ryan Benesch is more than a points producer for a young team in Minnesota. He's a mentor. (Photo: Dan Brodie)

About the only thing that could stop Ryan Benesch did just that last season. Injury. A concussion in late March sidelined Benny for 3 games and the Swarm were 1-2 in that stretch before the left-handed forward that won the 2011 National Lacrosse League scoring title returned and helped put the squad back on track. The Swarm won their final 3 games of the regular season, getting 18 points (8-10) out of Benesch to set themselves up for a run to the West Division final. That’s how much his production, and presence, means to this Minnesota Swarm team.

Benesch didn’t match his offensive output of 2011 (5 points) because missing 3 games will do that to just about anyone. But his 72 points on 33 goals and 39 assists were just as vital as any of the points he scored in his other 3 seasons with Minnesota, perhaps even moreso. That’s because the production of Benesch, along with his offensive mates, not only helped push the Swarm into the playoffs, but also helped the team win its first playoff game after 5 losses in 5 tries.

Emphasizing his importance even more was the young — very young — lineup the Swarm fielded consistently through the 2012 season. Relying heavily on so many rookies meant that the few veterans who were there were depended on that much more, and Benesch delivered when he could.

Helping his production was the career-high 12 power play goals and that momentum carried into his summer lacrosse in Victoria. The Ontario import was sixth among the WLA scoring leaders and second for the Shamrocks, his 65 points (26-39) trailing only the 70 points (35-35) of Jeff Shattler.

But sitting here and discussing goals and points for Benesch is like going to Sturgis and being surprised when the talk turns to motorcycles. Goals and offense is what’s expected of Benesch and it’s not so much that we’re surprised with what he’s doing. We’re impressed with the consistency in which he does it.

He’s not the biggest cat on the floor, or the strongest. But when it comes to determination and pure drive, there aren’t many who can match Benny. Lots of other fellas get all the glory and all the praise, but Benesch has quietly crafted his skill into one of the game’s best and he belongs right there with any talk about the offensive elite. Whether it’s the NLL or WLA, Benesch is one potent force.

Twitter handle: twitter.com/beniboi21

Fact: Benesch is part of an interesting trend among NLL scoring champs. He’s No. 3 in a string of 4 straight scoring title winners who hail from Ontario but play (or played) for a West Division team. (John Grant Jr., Colorado, 2012; Benesch, Minnesota, 2011; Josh Sanderson, Calgary, 2010; and Colin Doyle, San Jose, 2009).

Top 40 (last year’s rank in parenthesis)

No. 40: Jeff Gilbert (not ranked)
No. 39: Kevin Crowley (nr)
No. 38: Kevin Ross (nr)
No. 37: Adam Jones (nr)
No. 36: Jordan MacIntosh (nr)
No. 35: Paul Rabil (30)
No. 34: Tyler Richards (17)
No. 33: Scott Ranger (nr)
No. 32: Chris White (20)
No. 31: Sandy Chapman (15)
No. 30: Aaron Bold (nr)
No. 29: Jeff Moleski (10)
No. 28: Andrew Suitor
No. 27: Ryan Ward (nr)
No. 26: Dane Dobbie (25)
No. 25: Mike Carnegie (31)
No. 24: Stephan Leblanc (26)
No. 23: Josh Sanderson (7)
No. 22: Athan Iannucci (16)
No. 21: Mike Poulin (nr)
No. 20: Gavin Prout (22)
No. 19: Colin Doyle (5)
No. 18: Shawn Evans (33)
No. 17: Geoff Snider (18)

Chavez is an avid lacrosse player in Rochester and a journalist for the Democrat and Chronicle as well as a longtime Inside Lacrosse contributor. Email him at bob.chavez@nllinsider.com or go to RochesterSports.com.

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