Kootenay Ice centre Sam Reinhart (Larry MacDougall, The Canadian Press)Cracking a Western Hockey League lineup at just 15 years old is a major coup in itself. Very few teenaged hockey players can make the jump from minor hockey to the major junior level in one shot.
What Sam Reinhart did for the Kootenay Ice this season outstripped even being among the select few who have earned their keep in the Dub before turning 16. He is one of the handful of players in recent WHL history who was an impact player in his 16-year-old season. Reinhart scored 28 goals and 62 points in 67 games with the Ice, whose year ended with a loss to Edmonton on Thursday. He had only 16 fewer points than his his much older brother, team scoring leader Max Reinhart.
"I think this season has been smooth because it's like a home environment for me," says Sam, the youngest member of the Reinhart clan who turned 16 in November. "My brother is here and he has made it a lot easier on me here than going someplace where I don't know anyone. I also got a taste of this league last year. So I kind of knew what to expect going into the season."
The Hollyburn, B.C., native is the Eastern Conference nominee for the WHL's rookie of the year award. He's up for the honour against Kamloops Blazers winger Tim Bozon, who had 35 goals and 71 points but is also 18 years old.
Reinhart's season was a pleasant surprise to most, but not to all. For those who watched him notch an outstanding 38 goals and 78 points in 34 regular-season games with the Vancouver NW Giants of the British Columbia Major Midget League last season, it wasn't a major shock to see him prosper this early.Read More »from Kootenay Ice’s Sam Reinhart, barely 16, already making case for NHL draft