According to the Western Hockey League website on Wednesday, Sam Reinhart of the Kootenay Ice was named the 2013-14 Western Hockey League player of the year at an awards banquet at the Deerfoot Inn in Calgary. Reinhart had 36 goals and 69 assists for 105 points this season.
The son of former Calgary Flame Paul Reinhart, Sam is expected to be drafted in the top five of the 2014 National Hockey League Entry Draft, with the Buffalo Sabres being a very likely suitor. The fact that Reinhart recorded 105 points this season is impressive because he missed significant time with the Ice during the Christmas season while representing Canada at the 2014 International Ice Hockey Federation World Men's Junior Hockey Championship in Malmo, Sweden.
Reinhart was also very responsible in his own zone. He was a +24 this year, and proved to scouts he could play strong at both ends of the ice.
Meanwhile Calgary native Nick Merkley of the Kelowna Rockets was named the WHL rookie of the year. Merkley had 58 points in 66 games at only the age of 16 years old. A centerman, Merkley led all players in points for his age group.
Another Calgary native won a prestigious award. Sam Fioretti of the Moose Jaw Warriors won the Doug Wickenheiser Memorial Trophy presented to the WHL Humanitarian of the Year. Fioretti has spoken to local schools about the importance of healthy eating, living an active lifestyle and the importance of students not to bully their classmates.
The WHL Coach of the Year went to a former Calgary Flame. Dave Lowry of the Victoria Royals won the Dunc McCallum Memorial Trophy. Lowry, who played for the Flames from 2000-2004 led the Royals to a 100 point season, and a 23 point improvement from the previous year.
The Calgary Hitmen were also recognized as the scholastic team of the year. A major reason for the Hitmen's success was the outstanding daily work by Bernie Bajnok, the Hitmen education advisor. Formerly the team's assistant general manager, Bajnok has brought his expertise from the education world where he was a principal to the world of hockey.
Jordon Cooke of the Kelowna Rockets was named WHL Goaltender of the Year, and Derrick Pouliot of the Portland Winterhawks was named the WHL Defenseman of the Year. Sam Reinhart also won the WHL Sportsmanlike Player of the Year.