MISSISSAUGA -— Fifteen-year-old Sam Reinhart took advantage of his first Memorial Cup spotlight to clear up one lingering misconception.
The Kootenay Ice youngster — one of former NHL defenceman Paul Reinhart’s three junior hockey-playing sons — buried his first Western Hockey League goal this year against his older brother Griffin’s team, the Edmonton Oil Kings.
“There was a rumour going around that Griffin was on the ice when I scored,” the slick forward said with an impish grin, “and I want to clarify right now that he wasn’t.”
Griffin Reinhart is a 6-foot-5 defenceman — a half-foot taller than his baby brother.
Bright kid, this Sam.
Reinhart’s oldest brother Max, the Ice’s veteran leading scorer, nodded approvingly. This has been an unforgettable season for the Reinhart clan from West Vancouver.
Last fall when Kootenay and Edmonton faced off in Cranbrook, B.C., the Ice put Max and Sam in the starting lineup and the Oil Kings did the same with Griffin.
“Our mom (Theresa) and dad were in the stands for it,” Max said, “and with things like that, you just want to take it all in. It was pretty special for our family.”
That bond only strengthens this week in Mississauga, where it’ll be a Reinhart family reunion when Max and Sam’s WHL champion Ice open its Cup quest Saturday night against the OHL-winning Owen Sound Attack.
Grandparents Wilbert and Teresa — Paul’s folks — will be in from Kitchener. Paul, a Rangers captain and star defenceman before an 11-year NHL career with Atlanta, Calgary and Vancouver, never got his crack at the Cup for Kitchener but his No. 23 sweater — which Max wears in Kootenay — will finally be out there.
“We didn’t grow up in NHL dressing rooms,” said Max, who scored 34 goals this season, added 27 points in the playoffs and tied a post-season record with five goals in one game against Medicine Hat. “Our dad was done playing by the time we came along, but he tells us those little things that really help us as we move up in our careers.”
And when the Calgary Flames made Max a third-round pick last year, all that old advice hit home in a hurry.
“They flew us in after the draft to meet the media,” Max recalled, “and we were in the dressing room when (Flames coach) Brent Sutter grabbed me by the arm. He wanted to show me all the pictures there of my dad and it was nice to see where it started for him.
“He made a lasting mark there and now, it’s my turn to try to make an impression, too.”
It didn’t take Sam, Kootenay’s first rounder in the WHL’s bantam draft, to do the same on his brother’s team. The siblings have never before played on the same team and it’s awfully rare for a 15-year-old to get a crack at the Cup.
“I’m not surprised he’s here with us,” Max said. “He had a great year and proved to our GM (Jeff Chynoweth) and coach (Kris Knoblauch) that he was ready to play at this level.”
Sam is, in his own words, a “depth” player on the Ice. He dominated the midget ranks with his North West Giants, racked up 20 points and was named top forward at the Telus Cup championships and won gold with Team B.C. at the Canada Winter Games.
But now, he’s not sure how much he’ll play. He appeared in seven playoff games — one in the second round, two in the conference final and four of five in the final against Portland.
“It’s up in the air right now,” Sam said, “but it’s like the (WHL) playoffs. If I’m called on, I’ll be ready. It’s a thrill to be here.
“It’s been a crazy year. A long one.”
But one none of the Reinharts will ever forget.
THE REINHART BOYS
(Former Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks defenceman Paul Reinhart has two sons on the Western Hockey League champion Kootenay Ice)
Born: Feb. 4, 1992
Weight: 182 pounds
Highlights: Calgary Flames third rounder scored 34 goals and led Ice with 79 points this year . . . Tied WHL playoff record with 5 goals in one game April 27 against Medicine Hat, two of which were shorthanded . . . One of four Ice players with 27 playoff points.
Born: Nov. 6, 1995
Weight: 160 pounds
Highlights: Scored first WHL goal Oct. 19 against his brother Griffin’s Edmonton Oil Kings team . . . Ice’s first round pick (15th overall) in 2010 WHL bantam draft . . . Won gold with B.C. at Canada Winter Games in February and scored 7 goals and 20 points in 7 games for Team Pacific at 2011 Telus Cup in April.