Reinke reflects on the Cup: Former Huskies star got to experience Cup run firsthand
ST. LOUIS — In the chance of a lifetime, Michigan Tech hockey alum Mich Reinke was called up to the St. Louis Blues of the National Hockey League (NHL) for the playoffs after his team’s, the American Hockey League’s San Antonio Rampage, season came to an end.
Reinke reflected on getting the chance to watch the Blues’ Stanley Cup run firsthand while Blues fans watched on their collective couches.
“It was an incredible experience,” said Reinke. “I feel very fortunate to be a part of it. Just to see guys like Jay Bouwmeester and some of these guys that have played (for) a long time to be able to win and hoist the cup, it was pretty special.”
In his first full year of professional play, Reinke, a defenseman, found minor league sucess with the Rampage, where he set team records with 12 goals and 33 assists over 76 games.
For Reinke, getting the chance to be around the Blues again was motivating.
“It definitely was nice to join the team again,” he said. “I thought I had a pretty good year in the minor leagues, so it definitely felt rewarding to get the call up. It was just very nice to be back up.”
The NHL requires each player to participate in 41 games with their respective club or play in one game of the Stanley Cup Finals to have their name included on the Stanley Cup. Even though Reinke did not have the opportunity to get his name included, he had a great chance to get a feel for where he wants to take his career, especially after seeing other young players like Sammy Blais and Robert Thomas get the chance this season.
“For me, it’s a little bittersweet (because) I won’t get my name on the Cup,” he said. “I didn’t play enough games to get my name on it, so I don’t really feel like I truly won it. That’s my next goal; to definitely play in (the) NHL and to get my name on the Cup.
“I want to be a regular in the NHL. I want to play in that league every night and I want to play for the St. Louis Blues every night. I think my next goal would be to do that and keep solidifying myself in the lineup and just earn my way as a regular in the NHL. The end goal would be to win a Stanley Cup and get my name on it.”
When asked what advice he would give to younger players chasing after this same dream, Reinke’s answer was simple: dream big and work hard.
“I think, growing up, it’s everyone’s dream to lift the Stanley Cup and be a part of that,” said Reinke. “In a way I feel like I kind of fulfilled that (but) I think, in a way, it still has me wanting more.
“It’s good to have dreams (because) they’re not too far out of your reach if you want to work hard for them and actually go after them. I was just in college. This was my first pro season, so I was in college only last year. Just to be a part of a team like that, it happened really quick.”
This victory marks a first for Reinke along with many other past and present St. Louis Blues players.
“There’s a long list of alumni like Al Macinnis (and) Kelly Chase, all these people that are around the rink that have been Blues alumni for a long time,” Reinke said. “They had great careers. They were just so happy and so excited to see the city of St. Louis win a Stanley Cup and I think the fans really enjoyed celebrating that as well.
“I feel very fortunate, but at the same time, just dream big and if you want them (dreams) bad enough you can achieve them. It just takes a lot of hard work.”
Reinke had the chance to be a part of the parade through downtown St. Louis last Saturday.
“I was in a truck with Ville Husso who was also a black ase goalie and my girlfriend, so it was very cool the fans were really excited and the whole city was just going nuts,” he said. “It was a very fun day.”
Part of what drew Reinke to play for the Blues when he was looking at professional teams was their closeness, their kindness and their strong leadership as a team.
“Just their bond as a team,” said Reinke. “Coming out, I wasn’t part of the team all year (but) the way that they treated me and welcomed me when I got to the team was unbelievable. A lot of guys took me out for dinner and just invited me to do things.
“To see where they (the Blues) were at Christmas time or (even) early January where they were last in the league and now to win the Stanley Cup. It’s pretty incredible. It just shows the character and the leadership that they have in the room.”
Though his time at Michigan Tech is behind him, Reinke expressed his gratitude for players and coaches that helped him work his way to the NHL.
“College is a big stage and it’s just another stepping stone in the path for a lot of players,” he said, “but college hockey is becoming more and more (of) a pathway to the NHL. I think we’re seeing that more and more in today’s world. There’s so many college players that go on to have sucess in the NHL, so I think it’s a great developmental league.
“I’m just grateful for all of the support. I know they (Michigan Tech) like to see players have sucess and I wouldn’t be where I am today without my time spent at Michigan Tech. I’m just very grateful and thankful for their support.”