Reilly brothers make Gophers hockey history

  • Article by: JASON GONZALEZ , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 28, 2014 - 5:52 AM

The Reillys are the first trio of brothers to skate for the U at the same time.

 

Loud pops, clanking wood and ringing posts echo up the stairs and into each corner of the house. Sounds that mean brothers Connor, Ryan and Mikey have returned to the Reillys’ Chanhassen home and hockey den.

The visits remind the trio of a unique bond that’s stretched over 10 teams, from Mites to college hockey. The Reilly brothers have always been teammates, and that remains unchanged as college players: They are the first three brothers to be Gophers hockey teammates.

All five Reilly siblings — including sisters Shannon and Caitlin — are Division I players. Their father, Mike, played for the Gophers from 1979 to ’81.

Wood-paneled walls and ceiling scuffed with black marks hint at the family’s hockey passion.

Each summer, 15,000 shots fly across the Reilly’s hockey den at the goal stuffed with a tarp. Dozens of pucks are scattered on the concrete floor and there’s no shortage of hockey sticks or gloves.

Framed hockey art and memorabilia line the walls leading to the main floor and out the doors, where training only intensifies. The Reillys’ homemade rink is often bustling with action. At the base of the driveway, a hockey stick reminds each passerby the priority of this home, a focus that has led the brothers to an unprecedented place in the Gophers’ rich hockey tradition.

“Sometimes off the ice, it creeps into my mind, ‘Wow, this is a pretty special opportunity — playing close to home, for a great traditional program, with my brothers,’ ” Mikey said.

Trios of prominent brothers have played for the Gophers in the past. The Hankinsons, the Michelettis, the Brotens … though the sets of three never overlapped, nor produced a three-way goal.

Three Reillys filled the left column of the Gophers’ line chart on Dec. 6 at Michigan State. The 22-year-old twin forwards Connor (the oldest brother by five minutes) and Ryan were at left wing, and 20-year-old brother Mikey in his usual spot at left defense.

Three weeks earlier, brothers Connor and Mikey produced their first collegiate Reilly-to-Reilly goal. An all-Reilly-produced goal has yet to happen for the Gophers, but the more opportunities the trio gets together, they’re confident it’ll come.

“I can picture it now. ‘Reilly, Reilly, Reilly.’ It’s weird to say that,” Ryan said.

Despite Mikey’s two-year age difference, the brothers started college together after varying stints in junior hockey. Connor sat out last season because of a knee injury and is a redshirt freshman; Ryan and Mikey are sophomores.

Special night

Lisa Reilly’s gameday text message of encouragement usually left a son or two out over the past 55 Gophers hockey games.

Her message on Dec. 6 began: “Connor, Ryan and Mikey …”

“It was all three of them this time,” the proud mom said. “I knew it meant a lot for them to all be out there together, finally. I remember when I sent the text they texted me back and said, ‘Yeah, it’s awesome mom, it’s going to be awesome.’ ”

Ryan, who was making his season debut that night in a game at Michigan State, stood in the middle of his brothers during the national anthem. Mikey tapped Ryan on the shin and the brothers relished the moment.

“I thought, ‘I’m playing for the Gophers with both of my brothers and playing on the same ice with them. This is incredible,’ ” Ryan said. “I was shaking myself. Wow, like no one else in the world gets to do this. How many brothers get to play together, same time, same year?”

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  • Connor, Mikey and Ryan Reilly are still hoping to accomplish another Gophers hockey first: combining on an all-Reilly-produced goal.

  • Hockey excellence begins at home, where the Reilly brothers — (left to right) Mikey, Connor and Ryan Reilly — practiced their shots in a hockey workout area in the basement of their Chanhassen home. They are the first trio of brothers to play for the Gophers hockey team at the same time.

  • From Mites to college, the Reillys only know playing together.

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