DALLAS – The Reillys are a hockey family, so like most hockey families, there’s always a game — or three — on a Saturday night.
Mike Reilly, the former Gophers defenseman, made his NHL debut for the Wild against the Dallas Stars. Three of his siblings couldn’t attend because they, too, had games.
Sister Caitlin and the Gophers women beat Ohio State 3-1 at Ridder Arena, while twin brothers Connor and Ryan and the Gophers men won 7-1 at Penn State.
Mike Reilly, 22, said his entire family — father Mike and sister Shannon attended the Wild game — was excited for his long anticipated debut, especially his former high school and college teammates, Connor and Ryan, 24.
“They’re the reason I’m even in this position. They pushed me ever since I was young,” Reilly said.
Reilly officially found out he was debuting when he walked into the locker room Saturday morning and saw his No. 4 listed on the locker-room wall alongside Jonas Brodin’s No. 25 on the third pair.
“It’s pretty special. I worked all summer to try to be this position as soon as possible, and now that I’m here, it’s kind of surreal,” Reilly, the 110th former Gopher to appear in an NHL game, said beforehand.
His advice from coach Mike Yeo? Don’t play safe and don't be afraid to make mistakes.
One turnover led to a Dallas goal that was overturned, but Yeo liked how confident Reilly looked in 13 shifts totaling 8 minutes, 25 seconds. He had a shot and two blocked shots.
“I thought good start for him,” Yeo said. “There’s some things that we’ll continue to work with, but a good first game, and he’ll get an opportunity to get in again [Sunday against New Jersey].”
Goalie Darcy Kuemper, who missed six games because of a concussion, backed up Devan Dubnyk on Saturday and likely will start Sunday’s home game against New Jersey.
“Part of the thought process was get him into a backup role, get him following the play and making sure that your head’s in the game and hopefully that helps him a little bit [Sunday] if he does get into the lineup,” Yeo said.
Kuemper was struck in the mask by a puck in the same Dec. 27 practice during which Dubnyk was injured.
“Kind of a bad one for the goalies,” Kuemper joked. “…I woke up the next day and felt pretty good, so I was like, ‘OK, maybe it’s not a concussion.’ Then it was back at the morning skate [against Detroit] as soon as I got my blood flow up.”
Asked if he’s worried about a history with concussions, Kuemper said: “No. I mean, I went all last year with nothing. When I had that two years ago, those were the first of my life. I basically count those as one because they happened so quickly.”
• Wild defenseman Marco Scandella knows he was lucky not to sustain a catastrophic leg injury when he crashed into the end boards Thursday against Philadelphia. He didn’t miss a shift even though it looked as if his left leg turned the wrong way.
“It did. I didn’t know I was that flexible,” Scandella said, laughing.
• Winger Justin Fontaine, scratched in three of the past six games, returned. Chris Porter was scratched for the first time. Defenseman Nate Prosser missed his third consecutive game because of a hand injury.