Strong postseason bodes well for Griffin Reinhart and New York Islanders

By Christian Litscher

Griffin Reinhart - New York Islanders

Photo: Defenseman Griffin Reinhart had a strong playoff run with the Edmonton Oil Kings, helping them to a WHL championship, as well as a 2014 Memorial Cup victory. (courtesy of CHL Images)

The New York Islanders, as an organization, took a step back in 2013-14 after making the playoffs last year. Although none of the Islanders professional prospects got to play in any playoff games, many of the organization's junior and European prospects gained valuable experience playing in the postseason this year.

Adam Pelech, Jesse Graham, and Viktor Crus Rydberg participated in the OHL playoffs this year, although only Pelech made it out of the first round. Griffin Reinhart, Ryan Pulock, and Kyle Burroughs competed in the WHL playoffs. Reinhart's Oil Kings would go on to not only win the WHL championship, but also the 2014 Memorial Cup. Loic Leduc made it to the second round of the QMJHL playoffs before elimination.

Taylor Cammarata, Jake Bischoff, and Stephon Williams all made the NCAA tournament. Cammarata and Bischoff made it all the way to the championship game but lost to a strong Union team.

Ville Pokka, Mikko Koskinen, Kirill Petrov, Sebastian Collberg, and Kirill Kabanov all made the playoffs in their respective leagues. Pokka won the Liiga championship capping off a very successful year after winning the World Junior under 20 championship with Team Finland back in January.

OHL

Pelech and the Erie Otters entered the OHL playoffs as the third seed in the western conference. Their first round matchup was head to head against fellow Islander prospect Graham and the Saginaw Spirit. The Erie Otters would take the Games 1 and 2 both by a score of 4-3. Saginaw would then win game 3 7-6 in overtime, but Erie proved to be too much for the Spirit winning games four and five. Pelech finished with the series with two goals and two assists and Graham had three helpers.

The Otters advanced to play the second seed Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in the next round. Erie made short work of the Greyhounds sweeping them on a Joel Wigle goal in overtime of game four. The Otters had a great defensive effort holding Sault Ste. Marie to three goals in the series.

In the conference finals, Erie faced off against OHL powerhouse Guelph Storm. The Storm's offensive depth proved to be too much for the Otters to handle and they won the series four games to one. Pelech had three assists in what was a high scoring series.

WHL

Islander prospects Burroughs and Pulock faced off in the first round of the WHL playoffs. Although the Burroughs and the Regina Pats were the favorites, Pulock and the Wheat Kings swept them in dramatic fashion scoring five or more goals every game. Pulock had a goal and an assist in each of the opening two games for four points in the series.

Reinhart and the Edmonton Oil Kings started the playoffs strong, sweeping the Prince Albert Raiders in the first round. Reinhart had a goal and two assists in the series.

Edmonton then would advance to the next round to face Pulock and the Brandon Wheat Kings. The Oil Kings would come out on top in what was a short five game series. Reinhart continued his strong play with three assists, Pulock had no points.

The Oil Kings would then ease their way into the WHL finals making short work of Medicine Hat in another five game series. In the WHL championship, Edmonton would play last year's WHL champion Portland Winterhawks. It was a back and forth series, but the Oil Kings ultimately won in seven games. Reinhart had three points and kept Portland's high powered attack in check.

Edmonton went on to compete in the 2014 Memorial Cup. Once again, Reinhart was strong for the Oil Kings, managing three assists in five games en route to the Oil Kings second Memorial Cup Championship in three years.  

QMJHL

Rimouski Oceanic started out strong, sweeping Chicoutimi in the first round of the QMJHL playoffs. Leduc had two assists in the series and was a plus-eight. The Oceanic advanced to play Blainville-Boisbriand in what was a very entertaining series. It went seven games and featured two games that went to overtime as well as another that went to double overtime. Unfortunately after winning the first two games of the series, the Oceanic were on the wrong side of a game seven that went into overtime and lost by a score of eight to seven.

NCAA

Cammarata and Bischoff were a part of a high powered Minnesota Golden Gopher team that was ranked number one in the country for a large portion of the year. They entered the frozen four as a number one seed and steamrolled through Robert Morris in the opening round by a score of 7-3. Cammarata had two helpers, assisting on goals by Justin Kloos and Hudson Fasching (BUF). They advanced to the second round to play St. Cloud State where the won 4-0. Cammarata assisted on a second period goal by Justin Kloos.

In the semifinals Minnesota beat North Dakota 2-1 in a hard fought game that had a wild finish. With little time on the clock Kyle Rau (FLA) broke into the zone shorthanded and threw the puck on net. His shot was blocked but Justin Holl (CHI) retrieved the loose puck and put the puck on net with little time on the clock. In a miraculous finish, the puck went in with 0.6 seconds leaving North Dakota shocked and allowing the Gophers to advance to the NCAA championship.

In the finals, Minnesota played a Union team whose lone NHL draft pick was defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere (PHI). In disappointing fashion, the Golden Gophers lost by a score of 7-4 to a Union team that played hard. Taylor Cammarata had a goal and an assist in the game.

Williams and the Minnesota State-Mankato got knocked out in the first round by University of Massachusetts-Lowell by a score of 2-1, although Williams did not start.

Europe

After finishing first in the regular season, Karpat continued their strong play into the Liiga playoffs. In the opening round Karpat swept HPK advancing to the semifinal. Pokka had one assist in the series.

In the next round, Karpat matched up against SaiPa. Karpat won the series in five games to advance to the championship game. Pokka's offense exploded in game one, notching two goals and two assists. He would then add an assists in games two and five for six points in the series.

Karpat won the Liiga championship defeating Tappara in the final round. The series went seven games where Karpat won 1-0 in the deciding game. Pokka had two assists in game two as well as adding an assist in games four and six. Pokka finished the postseason with 11 points in 16 games which led all Karpat defenseman.

Koskinen and Petrov faced off in the first round of the KHL playoffs. Sibir would win the series in six games. Petrov had a goal and two assists in the series. In the second round, Sibir got swept by a strong Metallurg team that would go on the win the KHL championship. Koskinen finished the postseason with a .928 save percentage and a 1.98 goals against average.

Frolunda HC lost in the quarterfinals which was disappointing for a team that finished second in the regular season. Collberg only appeared in one game and had no points. Collberg also had an assist in one game played for Frolunda's under 20 team.

Kabanov had an assist in two games as MODO was knocked out in the play in round by Linköpings HC in two games.

Notes and Signings

The Islander's signed defenseman Pelech to a three-year entry-level contract back in March. The Islanders also recently signed Leduc to an entry-level contract.