By Dane Mizutani, St. Paul Pioneer Press
STILLWATER, Minn. — The Stanley Cup is coming to Stillwater.
Mitch Reinke, a 2014 graduate of Stillwater Area High School, and member of the NHL champion St. Louis Blues is bringing Lord Stanley to the St. Croix Valley Recreation Center on July 22.
“Just being able to share this with the community will be really special,” Reinke said. “I owe a lot to the community, so I wanted to make sure everyone got to be a part of it.”
As for the actual event, the first 500 people in the building that day will receive a ticket to get in line to take a picture with the Stanley Cup with doors scheduled to open at 10 a.m.
Anyone that does not receive a ticket will be able to view the trophy from the stands, and youth hockey players will be invited to take a group picture at noon, right before the event wraps up.
Stanley Cup winners typically get a day with the Stanley Cup and take it anywhere they like. Commissioned in 1892, it’s the oldest existing trophy awarded to pro sports teams, and Reinke wasn’t sure he’d get one because he didn’t actually play for the Blues in the playoffs.
He was a member of the “Black Aces,” the name given to minor league players invited to practice and travel with the NHL club throughout the playoffs.
“As someone in my position, I wasn’t sure what to expect,” he said. “I get a half-day with it, and I feel very fortunate for that.”
Aside from that, Reinke talked at length about how special it was to be a part of the Stanley Cup run. He practiced like a regular player and watched games from the press box with the rest of the scratches.
“It was a great experience to be a part of it,” said Reinke, who spent last season in the minors as a member of the San Antonio Rampage. “All of us could feel the intensity level ramp up throughout the playoffs. We always had to stay ready because we never knew if our number was going to be called. That was always in the back of our minds.”
And while Reinke didn’t see any playoff action, he saw enough to understand what it takes to succeed and is hoping to be a part of another Stanley Cup run down the road.
“It makes me really hungry to be a regular in the NHL,” he said. “It was such a great experience. I learned a ton about the details that go into the game at that level and I want to be a part of that in the future.”
After high school, Reinke, a 23-year-old defenseman, played two seasons of junior hockey with the Cedar Rapids Roughriders of the United States Hockey League and then two seasons of college hockey at Michigan Tech before signing with the Blues after the 2017-18 college season.