Ice hockey: Reinbacher gains a foothold in North America

During the successful relegation campaign in Tampere a year ago, Reinbacher gave a taste of his great talent. And that despite the fact that the then 18-year-old had to sit out a large part of the tournament after a knee injury suffered in the second game against Sweden. At the end of June 2023, the defender was selected by the Montreal Canadiens as the fifth player overall in the National Hockey League (NHL) draft, thus equaling Thomas Vanek’s domestic “record” from 2003.

Reinbacher completed the current season at EHC Kloten in the Swiss league. But because the Klotners played no role in the championship race and were spared a play-out against relegation due to the fact that the promotion candidates from the second class did not make it to the final, the 19-year-old was ordered to North America by the Canadiens. There, the rough diamond Reinbacher is now being polished for an NHL career in the Rocket de Laval farm team in the American Hockey League (AHL).

Visiting NHL hope Reinbacher

David Reinbacher is one of the greatest talents in Austrian ice hockey. However, his appearance at the World Cup in the Czech Republic is uncertain. Reinbacher was called up to the farm team by his NHL club Montreal Canadiens and is fighting for playoff participation. The ORF visited him.

“The best who ever played for us”

In Laval, in the northern outskirts of the metropolis of Montreal in the French-speaking province of Quebec, Reinbacher quickly won the hearts of the fans. In his first appearance for the Rocket on March 23rd against the Belleville Senators, Reinbacher made a notable entry into the scorers list. “It was certainly surprising and I was really happy to score a goal,” Reinbacher recalled in an ORF interview about the perfect debut.

For the Vorarlberger, who now has two goals and two assists, personal statistics are irrelevant. “I just always want to give it my all, do everything I can, so that the team wins and gets as many victories as possible,” said the defender, who has already settled in well despite the rapid move from Switzerland to Canada. “It’s really fun. The boys take me well, the coaches are really good, and the fans are cool too,” said Reinbacher.

The fans are also aware of what they have in the young Austrian – at least those who make the pilgrimage to all home games in the 10,000-seat Place Bell in the ice hockey-crazy Greater Montreal area. Jerseys with the number 64 and the lettering “Reinbacher” on the back are not uncommon. “This is the best young man who has ever played for us,” said a spectator in a Reinbacher dress, praising the first-round pick from last season towards the ORF microphone.

World Cup campaign in the stars

The Laval Rockets, as the club is called in English in bilingual Canada, are currently in the middle of it instead of just in the race for a hoped-for place in the play-offs. However, in order to maintain a chance of winning the Calder Cup, the AHL’s equivalent of the Stanley Cup, a few more victories are necessary in order not to break a sweat. “It’s fun to play here, we can definitely win a lot of games,” Reinbacher is at least convinced that the exercise is a success.

IMAGO/Pius Koller With Kloten, the play-offs in the Swiss league were not an issue for David Reinbacher (l.).

The Vorarlberger’s hope for the play-off is bad news for team boss Roger Bader, at least for the time being. Of the North American quartet Marco Rossi (Minnesota Wild), Marco Kasper (Grand Rapids Griffins, AHL), Thimo Nickl (Wheeling Nailers, ECHL) and Reinbacher, only Rossi has so far been guaranteed time at the World Cup. The striker is already out of the NHL play-off race with Minnesota and would therefore be an issue for the World Cup in Prague. According to team boss Bader, a place in the squad would be free for Reinbacher and Co. if the play-off issue was resolved quickly. “You know what you’re getting from them,” said the Swiss.

In any case, Reinbacher himself is not yet concerned with the topic of the World Cup. “I keep the focus here, our goal is to make the play-offs. If we reach the goal or don’t reach it, then we’ll keep looking,” said the 19-year-old. Reinbacher also doesn’t waste any thought on a possible stint in the NHL with the Canadiens – who have no chance of making it to the knockout rounds: “At the moment it’s about putting in the work here every day and giving it your all. The GM (General Manager, note) and the guys from above decide the rest.”

Ice Hockey World Cup test matches

4.4. (Riga) Lettland


3:2 n. P. 5.4. (Riga) Latvia


3:2 n.P. 11.4. (Bled) Slovenia


7:00 p.m. 12.4. (Villach)


Slovenia 6:00 p.m. 18.4. (Budweis) Czech Republic


5:10 p.m. * 20.4. (Linz)


Czech Republic 6:00 p.m. * 25.4. (Garmisch) Germany


7:00 p.m. * 27.4. (Zell am See)


Germany 4.15 p.m. * 5.5. (Vienna)


Canada 7:00 p.m. *

* Live in ORF Sport +


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