Max power: Rookie Reinhart leads Heat past Marlies in series opener

Conventional hockey wisdom holds that the playoffs are a time when the grizzled veterans take over. But Max Reinhart is rather precocious.

Heat defenceman Joe Piskula battles along the boards with Toronto Marlies forward Greg Scott.

Heat defenceman Joe Piskula battles along the boards with Toronto Marlies forward Greg Scott.

Conventional hockey wisdom holds that the playoffs are a time when the grizzled veterans take over.

But as rookies go, Max Reinhart is a rather precocious.

In just his third pro hockey game, the 20-year-old centre was the difference, notching a goal and an assist as the Abbotsford Heat beat the Toronto Marlies 3-1 on Tuesday evening in the opening game of their best-of-seven second round series.

Game 2 goes Thursday in Toronto, and Game 3 is Saturday at the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre.

Reinhart’s two-way skills and understanding of the game are beyond his years, and Heat head coach Troy Ward lauded the youngster’s “hockey brain” in the aftermath.

“The one thing about Max is, he finds himself to always be in positions to make an impact on the game,” Ward said of Reinhart, who fired a team-high five shots on net and had a +2 rating. “We’ve seen him now, in a short amount of time, score some goals at this level, and that’s not by coincidence. That has to do with his hockey intelligence.”

Playing before 4,934 fans at Toronto’s Ricoh Coliseum, Reinhart opened the scoring at 15:24 of the first period. Greg Nemisz chipped the puck ahead to spring Reinhart and Hugh Jessiman on a two-on-one break, which devolved into a goalmouth scramble. Reinhart tracked down the biscuit and chipped it over fallen Marlies goalie Ben Scrivens.

Midway through the second period, the rookie made a sweet play to set up the Heat’s second goal. Reinhart passed the puck to himself off the back of the net to elude a Marlies defender, then fed Chris Breen at the point, and the big blueliner’s shot beat Scrivens.

The Heat began the third period in nervous fashion – the hosts registered the first six shots of the frame, and that pressure yielded a goal by Matt Frattin off a feed from Joe Colborne.

But Abbotsford goalie Danny Taylor slammed the door from there – he turned aside 14 shots in the third period, including a pair of point-blank stops on Toronto forward Ryan Hamilton to preserve the one-goal lead.

Guillaume Desbiens got the insurance marker, scoring into an empty net with 1:21 remaining.

Reinhart, who joined the Heat after his WHL season with the Kootenay Ice ended, now has four points in three AHL games. He’s found a comfort zone on a line with Jessiman and Nemisz.

“I’ve had a lot of help,” he said, deflecting the credit for his hot start to his pro career. “There’s a lot of talk (with Jessiman and Nemisz), and they’re just really smart with the puck and make it very easy to adjust to a new system.

“It’s been a very smooth transition so far, but I think I still have a long way to go.”

The Heat posted their 11th consecutive victory dating back to the regular season, and Taylor has been between the pipes for nine of those triumphs. The Heat keeper was terrific once again on Tuesday, finishing with 31 saves.

Ward felt the Heat defence put Taylor in a position to succeed by giving him a clear view of the Marlies’ shots and then limiting second and third chances.

Jessiman said Taylor “epitomizes the character of our team.”

“He’s quiet but confident, and very focused,” Jessiman explained. “He stood in there and made some point-blank saves in the slot, and those are just huge saves.”

All in all, it was more of the same for the Heat, who have boasted a metronome-like consistency over the past month and were coming off a first-round sweep of the Milwaukee Admirals.

“We’re a tight-knit group,” Jessiman said. “One of our strengths is, we don’t look too far ahead and we don’t rest on our laurels. We had a good start (on Tuesday) – we got the first goal, and we battled.”

Just Posted

Harrison Hot Springs country singer Todd Richard poses for a photo with Mission firefighters. (Photo/Sarah Plawutski)
VIDEO: Harrison country artist Todd Richard plans for a busy, rockin’ summer

Richard and his band look to live shows as restrictions start to lift

The theme for this year’s Fraser Valley Regional Library Summer Reading Club is “Crack the Case” and Katie Burns, community librarian at the Chilliwack Library, is encouraging people of all ages to sign up. She is seen here at the Chilliwack Library on Friday, June 18, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Crack the case, read, win prizes with FVRL Summer Reading Club

‘Immerse yourself in other worlds and have a bit of fun while you do it,’ says Chilliwack librarian

A police pursuit involving Abbotsford Police ended in Langley Saturday night, June 20. (Black Press Media file)
Abbotsford Police pursuit ends in Langley with guns drawn

One person arrested, witnesses say an officer may have been hurt in collision with suspect vehicle

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

Kalyn Head, seen here on June 4, 2021, will be running 100 kilometres for her “birthday marathon” fundraiser on July 23. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Woman’s 100-km birthday marathon from Chilliwack to Abbotsford will benefit Special Olympics B.C.

Kalyn Head hopes run raises awareness, advocates for inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

FILE – Most lanes remain closed at the Peace Arch border crossing into the U.S. from Canada, where the shared border has been closed for nonessential travel in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. The restrictions at the border took effect March 21, while allowing trade and other travel deemed essential to continue. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Feds to issue update on border measures for fully vaccinated Canadians, permanent residents

Border with U.S. to remain closed to most until at least July 21

A portion of the George Road wildfire burns near Lytton, B.C. in this Friday, June 18, 2021 handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, BC Wildfire Service *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Blaze near Lytton spread across steep terrain, says BC Wildfire Service

Fire began Wednesday and is suspected to be human-caused, but remains under investigation

(Black Press Media files)
Burnaby RCMP look for witnesses in hit-and-run that left motorcyclist dead

Investigators believe that the suspect vehicle rear-ended the motorcycle before fleeing the scene

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Fort St. John man arrested after allegedly inviting sexual touching from children

Two children reported the incident to a trusted adult right away

Pedestrian hit by police vehicle in Langley

Injuries described as serious, requiring surgery

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read