Reinhart Strikes WHL Title, MVP

The Islanders top prospector leads Oil Kings to WHL title and a Memorial Cup berth.

Tuesday, 05.13.2014 / 5:00 PM ET / News
By Cory Wright
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Reinhart Strikes WHL Title, MVP
The Islanders top prospector leads Oil Kings to WHL title and a Memorial Cup berth.

Griffin Reinhart isn’t quite ready to cap off his Canadian junior career, but he concluded his Western Hockey League career in style Monday, leading the Edmonton Oil Kings in a gutsy comeback to win the Ed Chynoweth Cup as WHL champs.

Reinhart, the Islanders’ fourth-overall pick in the 2012 draft, captained the Oil Kings to their second WHL title in three seasons, erasing a 2-0 series deficit against the defending champions, Portland Winterhawks, while being named the championship series MVP.

“It’s surreal,” Reinhart told WHL.ca. “This team has got great character and we never give up…We were down 2-0 in the series and 2-0 in Game 3, but we always found a response.”

The Oil Kings battled back with three straight wins – two in Edmonton, one in Portland – to take a 3-2 series lead. Reinhart played an essential part in the game-five victory, scoring a goal and setting up the game-winner.

The Oil Kings had a geyser of momentum heading into game six and had drilled a three-goal lead with 20 minutes separating them from a trip to London, Ontario for the Memorial Cup, but the overzealous kids let the lead slip away and lost 6-5 in overtime.

Like any good prospector, Reinhart and the Oil Kings moved their rig, drilled back into the ground and struck it rich in game seven, winning 4-2 at Portland’s Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

“It’s a game of momentum and you could see all the swings going back and forth,” Reinhart told the Oil Kings official website. “Both teams had their times where they were playing better hockey and we’ve always responded well to adversity and we’ve shown that by coming back here up (three goals) going into the third and be able to hold on this time.”

Griffin Reinhart embodies the spirit of an Oil King. He’s a rugged, physical defenseman, standing 6’4” on the Edmonton blueline, staking his claim for the league’s title and defending it at all costs. The slick defenseman covers just about anything; he’s a premier shutdown defenseman in his league and plays like a man amongst boys.

The Oil Kings won the WHL title in 2012 and were runners-up in 2013 – both series were against Portland – but were largely counted out at the onset of the season after losing 10 players from those elite squads. Reinhart would have none of it, leading the Oil Kings to their third-straight 50-win season and WHL finals appearance.

The West Vancouver, BC, native received a long look at Islanders training camp in October, but was left to marinate for one more season in juniors. With four years of junior hockey under his belt, a Memorial Cup would be the ultimate sendoff into the professional ranks, but with two titles and a playoff MVP to his credit, Reinhart has accomplished all he can in the Western league.

Long Island beckons, but first the prospector has one last chance at pay dirt in London.

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 x - NYR 73 47 19 7 224 168 101
2 MTL 75 46 21 8 197 167 100
3 TBL 75 46 22 7 244 194 99
4 NYI 75 44 26 5 228 208 93
5 PIT 74 40 23 11 204 186 91
6 DET 73 39 22 12 212 201 90
7 WSH 74 40 24 10 215 182 90
8 OTT 73 37 25 11 213 195 85
9 BOS 74 36 25 13 195 193 85
10 FLA 74 34 26 14 184 202 82
11 PHI 75 30 29 16 196 216 76
12 NJD 74 31 31 12 166 189 74
13 CBJ 73 34 35 4 198 228 72
14 CAR 73 27 36 10 170 201 64
15 TOR 75 27 42 6 194 241 60
16 BUF 74 20 46 8 141 249 48

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Tavares 75 34 40 -1 74
R. Strome 74 15 31 19 46
K. Okposo 53 15 31 -10 46
F. Nielsen 74 13 28 9 41
B. Nelson 75 18 22 9 40
A. Lee 69 23 16 14 39
J. Bailey 63 15 23 6 38
J. Boychuk 65 8 25 10 33
T. Hamonic 65 5 25 16 30
N. Leddy 71 10 19 16 29
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Halak 35 16 2 .915 2.39
C. Johnson 8 8 1 .889 3.08

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