Reith set to soar 

Whistler forward joins Canmore Eagles

click to enlarge PHOTO BY PAM DOYLE COURTESY OF THE CANMORE EAGLES - Fly like an eagle Whistler hockey player Owen Reith has enjoyed a strong start to the 2018-19 season with the Canmore Eagles.
  • Photo by Pam Doyle courtesy of the Canmore Eagles
  • Fly like an eagle Whistler hockey player Owen Reith has enjoyed a strong start to the 2018-19 season with the Canmore Eagles.

Owen Reith is overjoyed to be back in the mountains.

After the Whistler product had an up-and-down rookie year of Jr. 'A' hockey action with the Alberta Junior Hockey League's Fort McMurray Oil Barons in 2017-18, he was dealt in the offseason to the Canmore Eagles. The change of scenery has benefitted Reith, as he's scored nine points in 12 games for the 7-3-2 Eagles.

"I'm really liking Canmore so far. It's got the mountains like at home in Whistler ... It's probably helped me settle in faster and get used to where I am," he said. "The team is a really good group of guys. We've had a good start, which always ends up leading to personal success as well."

So far this season, Reith has scored four goals and five assists after tallying six goals and 13 assists in 49 games last season.

With Fort McMurray, Reith had a hot start but eventually faded, and found himself playing in just two of the team's 10 playoff games.

Still, he was surprised when he found out this summer that he'd be wearing a new jersey in 2018-19, though Reith has relished the fresh start.

"I wasn't expecting (the trade)," he said. "I've definitely gotten more opportunity here, being on the power play, the penalty kill, and getting a lot of minutes five-on-five. I've gotten the opportunity and hopefully (the team is) happy with what I've been doing with it."

Eagles coach and general manager Andrew Milne said when he was looking over Fort McMurray's roster this summer for a player to complete a trade the teams made at the Jan. 10 trade deadline, Reith was his prime target.

"Bringing him to our group was part of the plan. We saw a lot of things that we liked," Milne said.

Milne said Reith has been a major contributor in all aspects of the game, not just on the scoresheet where Canmore has the league's top power play, but also as an anchor of the AJHL's second-best penalty kill as well.

"He's played well," Milne said. "We knew when we made the trade that he was a multitalented player. He's got a lot of tools in his toolbox. We think that he's got a high level of skill, which we've seen. His work ethic is second to none and for us, he's playing on the power play, playing on the penalty kill and he's playing five-on-five."

Reith has found himself playing alongside Taden Rattie, brother of Edmonton Oilers forward Ty Rattie, and Nolan Steer as part of a veteran line for Canmore.

The Eagles this year have added former player Will Heseltine in an analytics and hockey research role as they look to give themselves the best chance to win every night as he tracks statistics like puck possession and zone entries. While other teams dabbled in the numbers, Reith explained the Eagles are delving deeper.

"I've been using it a lot, actually, and there are stats that I've never even thought about or heard of, (tracking) puck luck. When you look at it, you can really break down how each game went and where your losses or wins are coming from," Reith said. "As long as you're playing how you should play, the numbers don't really change too much, but if we see we're not blocking shots or there are bounces going the wrong way, we can look at that."

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