A former Leo Lalonde Trophy recipient as Overage Player of the Year, Sarnia Sting graduate Justin DiBenedetto is settling into life as a Financial Advisor with SunLife Financial.
A well-rounded, versatile forward who gained a reputation as a gritty competitor during his OHL tenure with the Toronto St. Michael’s Majors and Sarnia Sting from 2004-09, Justin DiBenedetto is settling into life after hockey.
One of 62 graduates who attended the OHL Alumni Association’s inaugural golf tournament last month, DiBenedetto took time to reflect on his five-year OHL career.
“It’s awhile ago now,” said the 27-year-old, “but those were some of the best years of my life. I met a lot of people and formed close friendships that are still very important to me today. It’s a great league that provides players with tremendous opportunities.”
The native of Maple, ON was a first round (18th overall) selection by the Toronto St. Michael’s Majors from the Toronto Marlboros Minor Midgets and played two OHL seasons under Bud Stefanski before being dealt to Sarnia in the summer of 2006.
What followed was three very productive seasons in black and gold, amassing 249 points over 178 regular season contests including back-to-back 93 point seasons in his 19 and 20-year-old campaigns.
DiBenedetto helped the Sting reach the second round of the playoffs under Head Coach Dave MacQueen in 2008, marking the last time the franchise has reached the conference semi-finals.
He’s one of five Sting players to ever record five goals in a game, doing so on Oct. 10, 2008 in Sault Ste. Marie when he had seven points, part of a stretch where he recorded 16 points over three games.
“Sarnia is a great hockey town with passionate fans,” he reflected. “We had a good group of guys there, with several players who went on to successful careers and are still playing.”
Some of those names include Tampa Bay Lightning star Steven Stamkos and recently signed Toronto Maple Leafs winger Matt Martin.
DiBenedetto’s solid 2007-08 campaign that included 39 goals, 54 assists and 93 points in 58 regular season games followed by a strong playoff showing inspired the New York Islanders to select him in the sixth round (175th overall) of the 2008 NHL Draft.
He returned for an overage season, once again recording 93 points (45-48–93) to earn Overage Player of the Year honours while also joining the OHL’s 300-game club. He’s one of three Sting players to ever earn the Leo Lalonde Memorial Trophy, joining Aaron Brand (1996) and Charles Sarault (2013).
DiBenedetto turned pro in 2009-10, playing three seasons in the Islanders organization with the AHL’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers. He earned an eight game stint in the NHL, recording an assist with the Islanders during the 2010-11 season.
Three years spent with teams in Austria, Sweden, Finland and Italy from 2012-15 marked the conclusion of DiBenedetto’s professional career, one that he’s thankful to have enjoyed.
“Hockey has taken me a lot of places and given me a lot of different opportunities, but now I’m settling into life away from the game,” he said.
DiBenedetto is enjoying lending others a helping hand in his new career, one where he assists families and individuals with managing their money.
“I’m working as a Financial Advisor with SunLife Financial, helping people save for the future and make wise decisions with their money. It’s something I’ve really enjoyed.”
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