You could almost hear Sam Reinhart smiling through the phone.
The young 17-year-old recently returned home from Russia sporting some new hardware for his trophy case after leading Team Canada to a gold medal finish at the IIHF World U18 Championship in Sochi.
“It’s pretty special,” said Reinhart.
For the final, the Canadians faced off against the defending champions in the U.S., and eked out a tight 3-2 victory, despite getting outshot 35-12.
Frederik Gauthier notched the game winner for Team Canada, with scoring also coming from Laurent Dauphin and Madison Bowey, while Connor Clifton and Mike McCarron responded for the Americans.
Goaltender Philippe Derosiers made 33 saves in net to give the Canadians the win.
Reinhart said the Americans put on a really tough game, but his teammates were able to hold the line.
“They’ve got a tremendous amount of depth,” said Reinhart. “When you play together for two years, it’s obviously a challenge to go up against that. They played well against us for sure, as you saw from the shots, but we knew that if we played our game and focused on ourselves, we’d have success and that’s what we did in the final and came out on top.”
Reinhart posted three goals and four assists in seven games over the course of the tournament, but it was OHL phenom Connor McDavid who led the way with eight goals and six assists for 14 points.
The two have a connection via Kris Knoblauch, who coached Sam Reinhart in his rookie year, but is now mentoring McDavid as the bench boss for the OHL’s Erie Otters.
McDavid, the OHL’s rookie of the year who was granted exceptional status to play his inaugural season as a 15-year-old, posted two hat tricks in the tournament and has made professional scouts take notice.