Noah flooding net with goals
Noah Reinhart has made an immediate impact with the St. Catharines Falcons.
“One time during the year they just asked me to come out for a game. They tried me out, I scored two goals and I have been here ever since,” the 17-year-old Dundas native said Thursday, after the Falcons opened the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League Golden Horseshoe Conference playoffs with a 7-1 road victory over the Pelham Panthers.
The six foot, 185-pound forward had a team-leading 23 goals and 36 points in 24 games this season with the Hamilton Junior Bulldogs AAA under-18 squad and he has carried that scoring prowess over to the Falcons. With St. Catharines, he had five goals and seven points in six regular season games and then added a goal and a helper Thursday night in his first playoff game.
Reinhart would be the first to admit he didn’t expect to have so much success so early.
“Not really but when you are playing with good guys like these guys it is easy to put the puck in the net,” he said. “They set me up all the time.”
He feels the biggest adjustments he has had to make at the junior B level is dealing with the speed and skill of his opponents.
Reinhart has been greeted with open arms by his teammates.
“The guys have been great and they have welcomed me in. It has been a really great time so far.”
He has been an excellent addition to the team.
“He is an extremely smart hockey player and he should have been in this league all year long,” Falcons head coach Tyler Bielby said. “This is exactly where he deserves to be and he is going to be a big part of our journey. As a coach, I am excited to have him and we are going to give him every opportunity to show his stuff over the next couple of weeks.”
There is lot to like about Reinhart’s game.
“He is as smart as a pro and he does things pros do and on top of that he shoot the puck just as hard as anybody,” Bielby said. “He is a great kid and I will have 19 around any time he wants to be around.”
Reinhart is still figuring out what he wants to do next season but he calls the Falcons a good option.
“My goal is to play NCAA and I will work hard to get there this summer and try to have a good year next year,” the St. Mary’s student said.
Pelham hung around in the first period, trailing 2-1 entering the first intermission and then was scored 5-0 the rest of the way.
“It was a tough one for us,” Pelham head coach/GM Tim Toffolo said. “I thought we had a good first period and then they got a power play on us and the wheels just kind fell off after that. Our guys didn’t respond well after that and we had a lot of injuries start to happen. We lost another defenceman in the first period and we are playing pretty banged up right now.”
With a game Friday, there is little time to rest.
“We will be back to battle tomorrow,” Toffolo said.
St. Catharines outshot the Panthers 9-5 in the first period but didn’t really get rolling until the second stanza.
“I think there was a little bit of playoff jitters,” Bielby said. “We have got a lot of guys in this room who have never played a junior playoff game and you saw a bit of that in the first.”
There was no such problem in the second and third as the Falcons outshot the Panthers 35-8.
“We stuck to the process and continued to do things right, we got rewarded in the second period and the momentum carried us through,” Bielby said.
The Falcons got in penalty trouble in the third period before icing the game with goals seven seconds apart late in the game.
“You always want to be building in the playoffs and making sure you are getting better and I thought they still found a way to do that in the third,” he said.
Meteors 3 Junior Canadians 2
Luke Gualtieri and Michael Angrilli scored in the third period as the Fort Erie Meteors rallied past the Welland Junior Canadians to take a 2-0 lead in their series.
“A little bit of adversity for us, but our leaders brought us through,” Meteors coach Nik Passero said. “I think for the most part we had the better part of the play but still we let them carry to much momentum for my liking. Lots to improve on for the weekend.”
Game 3 is Saturday in Fort Erie at 7:15 p.m.
Falcons 7 Panthers 1
Young’s Insurance Player of the Game: St. Catharines’ Blake Yetman with a goal and three assists.
For the St. Catharines Falcons: Chris Reid (2); Yetman; Luca Testa; Noah Reinhart; Mason Howard; Logan O’Flanagan.
For the Pelham Panthers: Florian Xkekaj.
Game stats: Shots on goal: by SC on Brayden Kelso 44, by Pelham on Andrew MacLean 13. Penalty minutes: SC 12, Pelham 10. Power plays: SC 2-5, Pelham 0-6.
Up next: Game 2 of the series goes Friday at 7 p.m. at the Jack Gatecliff Arena.