West Van’s Sam Reinhart named WHL player of the year
Top NHL draft prospect also captures most sportsmanlike award
VANCOUVER — Sam Reinhart brought further honour to West Vancouver's first family of hockey Wednesday when he collected a pair of trophies at the Western Hockey League awards luncheon in Calgary.
The 18-year-old Kootenay Ice captain was named the WHL's most outstanding player as well as its most sportsmanlike player. It capped a banner season for the slick centre, who finished tied for fourth in league scoring with 105 points. He had just 11 penalty minutes in 60 games played.
"Being named player of the year is a huge honour and a direct reflection of my team, my teammates and the opportunity I was given," Reinhart said from Calgary. "Coming into this year, consistency was a big focus of mine and I think that was a big asset of my game this year. With the sportsmanlike award, I've always taken pride in playing the right way and being smart. I always felt you can get a couple of more shifts in a game if you're not in the penalty box."
The Reinhart family story is well known and Sam is the final chapter.
Dad Paul played in the NHL for the Atlanta and Calgary Flames before finishing off his career with the Vancouver Canucks. Oldest brother Max was a third-round pick of the Flames in 2010 and is currently involved in the American Hockey League playoffs for the Abbotsford Heat. Middle brother Griffin went fourth overall to the New York Islanders two years ago and is captain of the Edmonton Oil Kings, who meet the Portland Winterhawks in the WHL championship series beginning Saturday.
Sam is now decompressing for a bit — he also played for Canada at the world juniors — before amping up for the NHL scouting combine in late May and then the NHL entry draft in June. He is expected to be a very high first-round pick.
"It's been a long year, there is no question about that, but I've been able to find some time in the last week or so to recuperate," he said. "The next couple of months are going to be busy again but it's nothing that I am not used to. The demand on your time is something that is hard to get away from, especially in a draft year where the media spotlight is very big.
"Griffin went through it two years ago and I had a chance to watch him and see how he handled certain situations so it's influenced the way I've handled my year so far. That's made it a lot easier. The excitement is definitely there."
Sam was exceptional in the second half of the WHL season, racking up 55 points in his final 27 games. Dad Paul is convinced his performance at the world juniors was a launching pad for the stupendous stretch drive.
"Obviously it was an exceptional year for Sam and, from my standpoint, maybe his most impressive showing was his contribution in the world junior championships," Paul said. "He played against some of the best young players outside of the NHL and certainly held his own and demonstrated how ready he is. So, to me, that was really the stepping stone to prove where he was. It gave him the confidence to take one step up in the Western Hockey League's second half."
Sam Reinhart joins an illustrious group of B.C.-born players to win WHL player of the year, including Joe Sakic, Dan Hamhuis, Ray Ferraro, Cliff Ronning and Ryan Walter.
Some of the other WHL award winners Wednesday were: Dave Lowry, Victoria Royals, coach of the year; Cam Hope, Victoria, executive of the year; Derrick Pouliot, Portland, defenceman of the year; Jordan Cooke, Kelowna Rockets, goalie of the year; and Nick Merkley, Kelowna, rookie of the year.
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