Lucia says little about hockey recruit's injury at party

  • Article by: ROMAN AUGUSTOVIZ , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 21, 2012 - 6:44 AM

Incoming freshman Connor Reilly "fell awkwardly" Saturday at a team party and hurt his right knee.

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Gophers freshman Connor Reilly, seen here in a high school game playing for Holy Angels.

Photo: Jeff Wheeler, Star Tribune file

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Gophers forward Connor Reilly, one of the hockey program's top incoming freshmen, will miss the entire 2012-13 season because of a knee injury.

Reilly tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in an off-ice fall Saturday at a team party, according to two sources close to the situation. The official release from the University of Minnesota said Reilly "suffered the injury after he slipped and fell awkwardly over the weekend." Reilly will undergo surgery soon.

Gophers coach Don Lucia declined to comment further on how Reilly was injured or whether the incident is being investigated. "[There is] nothing left to discuss, our release was the truth," Lucia wrote in a short text message.

Connor Reilly had hoped to be part of a rare three-brother combination on a team with high expectations. The Gophers advanced to the Frozen Four last spring and should be tabbed the WCHA favorite when the preseason polls are released. Ryan, Connor's twin and another forward, and younger brother Mike, a defenseman, are among the Gophers' eight other first-year players.

Last season the Reillys were all standouts for the Penticton Vees of the British Columbia Hockey League. Connor had 35 goals and 86 points for the Vees before his season ended abruptly after 54 games. He had surgery on his left knee on March 6 for a knee condition that causes fragments of bone to break off from the joint surface.

The 6-foot, 170-pound Connor, who had two screws inserted to repair that knee, was expected to be ready for the Gophers' season-opening series against Michigan State at Mariucci Arena on Oct. 12-13.

"I'm disappointed for Connor. He's been working very hard to get back on the ice this year from his previous surgery, and this is an unfortunate setback for him," Lucia said in a statement.

Reilly, who turns 21 on Oct. 1, graduated from Holy Angels in 2010. He played for the Sioux Falls Stampede of the USHL for one season before going to Penticton.

He is part of a well-known hockey family in Chanhassen. His father, Mike, played hockey for Colorado College and the Gophers and was drafted by the Montreal Canadiens in 1977. His sister Shannon played for Ohio State from 2006-10.

Without Reilly, the Gophers still have 14 forwards -- two more than normally play every game.

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