For a guy who was just named the WCHA’s Offensive Player of the Week for the third time this season, Wisconsin forward Steve Reinprecht was quite humble.
“It feels good, though the times I’ve won it, it’s been unexpected,” the sophomore center said. “It’s good that you get the honor of being Offensive Player of the Week, but I couldn’t have done any of it without my linemates or teammates. I wish there could be a team player of the week award, just because that’s the way our team’s playing right now.”
And if there was a team of the week award given out, or even team of the month for that matter, the Badgers would have to be given strong consideration.
Since a 4-2 loss to Notre Dame Dec. 12, UW is 10-0-1, including a key series sweep at Colorado College. Reinprecht has played an important role in that time, scoring 11 goals in the 11 games.
In last Friday’s 6-5 overtime win over CC, Reinprecht netted his first collegiate hat trick, with the third goal being the game-winner.
“Two of the goals he scored were just beautiful goals,” Badger coach Jeff Sauer said of Reinprecht’s performance against the Tigers. “He just walked the defenseman, put it right between his legs and went in and scored. They were just beautiful goals.”
Reinprecht’s recent surge has put him atop the WCHA scoring list, tied with teammate Craig Anderson with 22 points. In all games, he leads the conference outright with 30 points on 16 goals and 14 assists.
But the Edmonton, Alb., native once again gave credit for his improved play to his teammates.
“I think as the team goes, the person goes,” Reinprecht said. “Our whole team’s rolling. We have guys putting the puck in the net all over.
“[Joe] Bianchi’s playing great, [Erik] Raygor’s playing great, everybody’s putting the puck in the net and that’s what happens when a team turns it on.”
If his statement that the team’s success controls the player’s is true, that may serve to explain his burst in scoring from last year, when he scored 11 goals and added nine assists. He said he has seen his contributions jump.
“I feel like I’m adding a lot more than I did last year,” he said. “When I came in last year, I didn’t have as much confidence as I do now because I didn’t know what I could do.
“The whole team, we worked hard over the summer. I felt with that work ethic, I gained that much quickness and I think that’s one of the reasons why I’ve improved my game that much.”
Sauer said the improvements have made him a go-to player.
“He’s one of the guys on our club that I think you can really count on, [say] if I needed a goal from somebody out there on the power play,” he said. “He certainly has the skills to get the goal for us.”
And, according to the coach, Reinprecht is definitely making the league take notice.
“I made the statement after Friday night,” Sauer said, “that if there’s a forward in the WCHA that’s playing any better, I’d like to see him.”