Flames prospect Reinhart learns the hard way
IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency
|Flames prospect Max Reinhart. (DARREN MAKOWICHUK/QMI Agency file photo)
CALGARY - Max Reinhart’s welcome-to-pro-hockey moment came just a few minutes into his first playoff game.
Suiting up against the Milwaukee Admirals, the Calgary Flames prospect made a nice pass then … wham!
The hit was so hard, he didn’t even get the guy’s number.
“It woke me up a little bit,” said Reinhart, who joined the Abbotsford Heat after his season ended with the Western Hockey League’s Kootenay Ice.
“It was a little different. A little faster. Guys are a little bit stronger. I’m not used to getting hit off my feet too often. I knew I had to stay focused and not admire passes. Simple things like that and being more aware out there.”
Reinhart didn’t wilt in the move up to the AHL from the WHL. The Flames’ third-round pick in 2011 played in four games, scoring one goal and adding an assist.
The best part was getting that experience before he comes to Flames training camp in the fall.
When the 20-year-old was sent to Abbotsford, it looked like he would just be part of a taxi squad.
In the regular-season finale, he managed to score twice and opened some eyes. Then in the second-round series against the Toronto Marlies, Reinhart scored his first AHL playoff goal in a 3-1 victory.
It’s one he will remember for a while, even after the Heat lost out in five games.
“It was a mad scramble in front of the net,” Reinhart said. “I was the guy on the outside of the pile. The puck fell to me and I chipped it over the goalie that was sprawled out.”
Flames prospects are getting attention in several leagues this spring, and Reinhart is watching the others, too.
Of course, one of the reasons he’s following the WHL final is because his younger brother Griffin is member of the Edmonton Oil Kings.
Portland Winterhawks forward Sven Baertschi — a first-round Flames pick in 2011 — has lit it up with seven goals in five games in the championship series.
If the Oil Kings wrap up the series, Reinhart will attend the Memorial Cup to cheer on his brother, but it’s hard for him not to envision a future as Baertschi’s teammate.
“He’s a tremendously skilled player,” Reinhart said. “I would rather be on his team than against him. On any given play, he can make you look foolish.”
Reinhart’s plan is to use the summer to bulk up and come in ready to compete for a spot in Calgary next year.
“I’m not looking too far ahead,” Reinhart said. “The goal is to be with the Flames. If it wasn’t, that wouldn’t be wise.
“It would be a dream come true to be in Calgary next year. I’m going to do everything I can in the off-season to make it happen.”