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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 / 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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EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 MTL 63 41 17 5 171 139 87
2 NYI 65 41 21 3 207 182 85
3 NYR 62 39 17 6 196 153 84
4 TBL 65 39 20 6 213 171 84
5 DET 61 35 15 11 180 159 81
6 PIT 62 36 17 9 181 155 81
7 WSH 65 35 20 10 193 162 80
8 BOS 62 31 22 9 165 161 71
9 FLA 64 28 23 13 156 181 69
10 PHI 64 27 25 12 170 186 66
11 OTT 61 27 23 11 173 166 65
12 NJD 64 27 27 10 144 165 64
13 TOR 64 26 33 5 173 195 57
14 CBJ 63 26 33 4 163 201 56
15 CAR 62 24 31 7 144 167 55
16 BUF 64 19 40 5 123 215 43

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Tavares 65 30 35 4 65
K. Okposo 46 14 30 -2 44
R. Strome 65 14 28 23 42
B. Nelson 65 17 20 7 37
F. Nielsen 65 11 25 13 36
A. Lee 59 21 13 13 34
J. Bailey 53 13 19 11 32
J. Boychuk 55 7 23 14 30
N. Leddy 65 8 18 16 26
T. Hamonic 55 4 21 16 25
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Halak 33 13 1 .911 2.47
C. Johnson 8 8 1 .889 3.08

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