Reinhart leads Flames Young Stars past Oilers rookies in Penticton
Talented pivot not the only Calgary player shining — both 2013 first rounders Monahan and Poirier looked great too
Calgary Flames prospect Max Reinhart battles with Edmonton Oilers prospect Jujhar Khaira on Thursday.
Photograph by: Ward Perrin, PNG
PENTICTON, B.C. — Jay Feaster, a couple of days ago, said that he expected Max Reinhart to stand out.
That the young centre’s experience and talent would make him a cut above the rest this week at the Young Stars Classic.
The Calgary Flames general manager was not wrong.
In the opening period of the opening game, Reinhart opened the scoring.
The rest of the way through the Flames’ 5-2 win Thursday over the Edmonton Oilers at the South Okanagan Events Centre, he was awfully strong, too. Poised with the puck. Making the correct play. Killing penalties. And skating hard.
“You know, I wasn’t really sure what to expect,” said Reinhart. “I put a lot of work in over the summer and I was kind of anxious to get out there and feel my way through it. I was pretty pleased with how I started.”
Last winter, in his first full crack at pro, Reinhart got into 11 dates with the Flames, producing three points. Now he’s hoping to get back to the National Hockey League.
“I feel a lot more comfortable than past years,” said the 21-year-old. “I can’t get too complacent — no one can — because that’s when it can come back to bite you.”
And if the Flames brass knows exactly what it is getting with Reinhart, there must have been an otherworldly eagerness to clap eyes on first-rounders Emile Poirier and Sean Monahan.
What do you know?
Both teens, operating on a unit with Turner Elson, scored in the third period.
“We were playing a good game,” said Monahan. “I got a lucky bounce and I was lucky enough to put it in the back of the net . . . it feels good.”
Despite the crammed itinerary of recent days — gathering Wednesday in Calgary, travelling to Penticton that night, playing the following afternoon, with only a single morning skate to fall back on — the Flames managed to look remarkably sharp.
“I think that caught us off guard — I think it caught everyone off guard,” said Reinhart, whose club faces the Vancouver Canucks on Friday (8:30 p.m., The FAN 960). “This is the first time we’ve all played together as a group. But I guess that just speaks volumes about the character in that room. Everyone bought into the one practice of system (work). Obviously, we executed pretty well.”
Building a 17-4 shot bulge in the opening 20 minutes, the Calgarians got goals from Reinhart (from Andy Taranto and Josh Jooris), and two from Markus Granlund (assists to Ryan Culkin and Ben Hanowski; assists to Michael Ferland and Keegan Kanzig).
“Our team played so well,” said Reinhart. “We were on them on the forecheck. We were relentless. We didn’t have a whole lot of D-zone time. I think every forward thrives off that. It was a little easier for us to play out there.
“I expect us to keep this momentum going.”
The Oilers did score twice in the second period — Jujhar Khaira and Travis Ewanyk — but the Flames’ big names restored the three-goal lead.
At :49, it had been Monahan, banging in a rebound off a John Ramage shot.
At 7:34, it had been Poirier, finishing a play started by Patrick Sieloff.
“He’s a good player and he’s smart,” Monahan said of Poirier. “It was fun to play with him.”
Goalie Laurent Brossoit, meanwhile, withstood 19 shots for the victory.
Like Brossoit — and a pile of others — centre Corban Knight made his pro debut.
“Basically, when you get out there, it’s a pretty even playing field . . . but at a high level,” said Knight, 22. “This is definitely pretty cool. A pretty exciting step. Definitely a memorable game.”
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