Sam Reinhart is viewed by many as the early favorite to be the first player picked at the 2014 NHL Draft and on Wednesday against Finland he showed why. Reinhart who plays for the Kootenay Ice of the Western Hockey League scored a goal showed his puck management skills and killed penalties as Canada made its debut here at the USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp with a 5-3 victory against Finland. Reinhart is known as an offensive dynamo -- he led Kootenay in goals (35) assists (50) and points (85) last season -- but he was a key part of Canada's perfect 6-for-6 effort on the penalty kill. "I know Sam is an 18-year-old player" Canada coach Brent Sutter said. "He's a very good hockey player and I have no problem whatsoever putting him in all those key situations." While Reinhart enjoyed scoring a goal being able to kill penalties was also nice. He said he does that with Kootenay but to do it on this stage is a bit of a badge of honor. "It's good" he said. "It always gives you a little more confidence when he relies on you in certain situations." While the second-youngest player at the camp Reinhart already has distinguished himself as a strong candidate to make the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship team. He certainly had no problem keeping up with the pace in his first taste of top-level under-20 international hockey. "It was good went really well" he said. "I think both teams took a couple minutes to get going but once we did it was a pretty fast-paced game the whole way through." Finland opened the scoring when Kasper Kapanen another top 2014 draft prospect wristed a shot from the slot past Canada goalie Eric Comrie 51 seconds into the game. Reinhart evened the score with a great individual effort. He held onto the puck as he skated through the Finland zone lost it for a second but recovered spun and fired a hard shot that eluded Finland goalie Juuse Saros at 10:11. "It seemed like a broken-down play" Reinhart said. "I just quickly turned around and shot and Rykes [Kerby Rychel] was in front and doing a great job of screening the goalie and I had a lot of net to shoot at." Just 27 seconds later Canada took the lead when Frederik Gauthier knocked in a loose puck in front of the Finland net to make it 2-1. In between the goals Canada had to kill off three Finland power plays. Reinhart teamed with Felix Girard a Nashville Predators draft pick to help the effort. "You look at [Reinhart] and Felix they're both really really solid two-way guys" Sutter said. "They understand the details of the game they're smart players. I'm very comfortable using those guys killing penalties." Girard who previously played with Reinhart at the 2012 IIHF World Under-18 Championship said he's seen great growth from his teammate even though Girard remembers being highly impressed with how Reinhart then 16 handled the pressure of high-level international hockey. "I think he's smarter with puck management now" Girard told NHL.com. "When I saw him he was 16 years old he was good with the puck I could tell he had good hockey sense and he's a smart kid. I see right now he's way smarter with the puck and he has experience to his game. … He's a good player got great hockey sense. He knows where the puck is going before it goes there. He's a smart kid on the ice. It's nice to play with him."
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Top Prospect Sam Reinhart puts skills on display in Canada victory
NHL.com | Aug 8