STILLWATER, Minn. (FOX 9) - Mitch Reinke wasn’t sure he’d ever get the chance to bring the Stanley Cup to Minnesota. That dream became a reality on Monday for a couple hours at the place he grew up playing – St. Croix Valley Recreation Center in Stillwater.
After two college seasons at Michigan Tech, the Stillwater native singed a two-year, entry-level contract with the St. Louis Blues in March of 2018. He’s played in one career NHL game and spent most of his professional career so far with the San Antonio Rampage of the American Hockey League.
Reinke was in Boston last month as the Blues beat the Bruins in Game 7 to win the Stanley Cup. It was the first appearance for St. Louis since 1970, and the Blues made the most of it.
In Stanley Cup tradition, each player with the team gets the Cup for one day to take to a place of their choice. For Reinke, it was a no-brainer. He was bringing it to the rink he grew up on. About 500 people showed up Monday morning at St. Croix Valley Recreation Area in Stillwater to pose for pictures with Reinke and the Stanley Cup, and offer Reinke congratulations.
The Stillwater City Council also declared Monday, July 22 “Mitch Reinke Day.” The rest of his day included a private party with family, friends and the Stanley Cup.
“It’s pretty special. This is where I grew up my whole life and these people gave so much to me and my family growing up, so as soon as I found out I had a day with it, I knew I wanted to bring it here,” Reinke said.
After 76 games in San Antonio this past season, Reinke had an interesting and challenging role with the Blues. He was one of three “Black Aces” from the team’s AHL affiliate. He was in the building for the Stanley Cup Finals against the Boston Bruins, but was watching the games from the press box.
He could be called to play at a moment’s notice, but wouldn’t know when or if it would happen until it actually did.
“It’s a hard role to be honest. You gotta stay ready and you gotta do a lot behind the scenes to make sure you’re ready to go,” Reinke said. “Just keep working hard and be a good teammate, I think that’s the biggest thing.”
He never got the call to play, but got his moment with the Stanley Cup on the ice in Boston after the Blues beat the Bruins in Game 7. It’s a dream come true for any Minnesota kid who grows up on an ice sheet.
“It was so special. I won’t ever be able to replicate that feeling,” Reinke said.
Reinke played for three years with the high school team at Stillwater before playing junior hockey for the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders with the United States Hockey League. The defenseman played 111 games there, scored seven goals and had 44 assists.
In 76 collegiate games at Michigan Tech, he had nine goals and 35 assists.
This season in San Antonio, he had 12 goals and 33 assists in 76 games. His summer now consists of training, getting ready for the Blues’ fall camp and competing to earn a roster spot.
But for one day, he’s soaking in the fact that he brought the Stanley Cup, of the most historic trophies in sports, to Minnesota. He got the chance to see a lot of familiar faces, even took a photo with his grandmother, and say thanks to the people that got him this far.
“I think every kid dreams of it. But to do it in real life, it’s unbelievable,” Reinke said.