Mike Reilly played college hockey in the late 1970 and early 1980s. He was at Colorado College for two seasons and for the Gophers for two, finishing in1981.
"You look at college leagues and some of the best players are not the ones who are going to be pros," said Mike, who was drafted by Montreal in 1977. "They are the small, quick guys who can make plays."
Like his three sons.
Connor and Ryan are twins, who turned 19 on Nov. 1. They are playing for coach Kevin Hartzell at Sioux Falls of the USHL. Both forwards, who are 2010 Holy Angels graduates, have committed to the U.
About a week ago their younger brother, Michael, also committed to the U. He is a 17-year-old junior defenseman playing for Shattuck-St. Mary's in Faribault. He played at Holy Angels with his brothers as a freshman and sophomore.
"The kids decided where they wanted to go" to college, Mike Reilly said. "It wasn't me saying where I wanted them to go."
Connor is 5-11, 160. Ryan is 5-8, 150 and Michael is 5-11, 150.
"They are ally physically immature," their father said, "but that's OK. [If you are slim] you live longer, they say."
Connor and Ryan will probably play for Sioux Falls for two seasons, this season and next, their father said, so they can get physically stronger.
"What Don [Gophers coach Don Lucia] wants is kids who play four years after one or two years worth of juniors," Mike Reilly said. "You see how well [Erik] Haula and [Nate] Condon are doing."
Haula and Condon are the centers on the Gophers' two top lines this season. Both played in the USHL last season.
"Kids who are not physically ready, it's tough for them to develop," Mike Reilly said. "One or two years of juniors is good. Why push kids unless they are like [Nick] Bjugstad, a first-round kid."
Bjugstad, a 6-4, 210-pound freshman center for the Gophers, was drafted by Nashville in the first round of the 2010 NHL draft.
The twins, even though they probably won't start at the U until 2012-13, might sign with the Gophers during the regular signing period in April.
That way they can work out with the Gophers in the summer like forward Max Gardiner and defenseman Justin Holl did this past summer, their father said. Both Gardiner and Holl were planning to play in the USHL until the late departures of Josh Birkholz (for Everett of the Western Hockey League) and Nick Leddy (for the American Hockey League) created two unexpected roster spots.
Mike Reilly, who could have three sons playing for the U in a couple years, already has a daughter playing Division I hockey. Shannon Reilly is a senior defenseman at Ohio State.
Reilly, an assistant captain for the Buckeyes, was named the WCHA Defensive Player of the Week after Ohio State swept Syracuse 5-1 and 6-2 on Oct. 29-30. She had two assists, two blocked shots and was a plus-3 in those games.
Her father has tried to watch her play as much as possible as a senior and has not seen the twins yet.
"[Their coach] Kevin Hartzell keeps me updated," Mike Reilly said. "It a good league, physical."
There is a slim chance his youngest son, Michael, could start at the U with the twins in 2012, Mike Reilly said, but 2013 is more likely.
Holy Angels coach Greg Trebil said the Gophers are getting three gifted players.
"Connor is a center," Trebil said. "He has a radar for passing. He put the puck right where it has to go. And hes' got a good shot.
"Ryan is a wing who is also adept at the off wing. He is a tough kid. Not big, but he can hit and is very aggressive.
"They are very similar. The key to them is they are so tremendously skilled. They are tremendous skaters, good shots, really good passers. Their bodies are still going to spread out and they will get stronger.
And then there is Mike, the youngest. Trebil said Mike plays a fair amount as a freshman and full-time as a sophomore.
"The other guys [the twins] are more compact. They are a little thicker. Mikey is a graceful deer, kind of stretched out. Everything is a little smoother with him. He's got tremendous vision, he sees the ice and gets the pass to teammates and is starting to become a pretty good scorer."
Pity the poor Gophers play by play announcer in 2013 who has to say, "Mikey Reilly passes the puck to Ryan Reilly who shoots and Connor Reilly scores on the rebound."
Three brothers have played for the Gophers at least three times before that I am aware of, but not at the same time.
There were the Hankinsons:
Peter was a Gopher from 1987-90, Ben from 1988-91 and Casey from 1994-98, so only the two oldest overlapped.
There were the Brotens:
Neal from 1979-81, Aaron from 1980-81 and Paul from 1985-88. Only the two oldest overlapped.
There were the Michelettis:
Joe from 1974-77, Don from 1977-80 and Pat from 1983-86. No overlap there at all.
Before that, in the 1950s and 1960s, there were four Alms, Gary, Larry, Richard Lee and Michael Alm, and the four Merediths, Richard, Robert and Wayne and later John Meredith (1977-80). ... Not sure how they are related. Might have missed another three brothers somewhere in Gophers history. There are 11 Anderson boys who have played for U, six Johnsons and eight Larsons, etc.
TREBIL ON TWO GOPHERS HE COACHED
Greg Trebil has built one of the strongest boys' hockey programs in the state at Holy Angels. Almost every year, he has a player or two who goes on to Division I hockey.
Two of his former players are on the current Gophers team. One is junior center Taylor Matson, the other is senior right wing and captain Jay Barriball.
Trebil on Matson: "He is quite a kid. If there is a harder worker consistently, I'd like to meet him. He is as good a team player as I have ever coached. He is totally without selfishness. He wants his team to win and that is all he cares about."
Matson missed much of his freshman season after knee surgery and much of his sophomore season after ankle surgery.
"A lot of kids would just give up. He just goes to work as hard as he can. He goes and plays. That's couage."
Trebil on Barriball: "Last year offended Jay. He was upset how it went."
The 2009-10 Gophers finished seventh in the WCHA, went on the road for the first-round of the playoffs and lost two of three games at North Dakota. That was the end of their season, no Final Five, no NCAAs.
"We talked many times over the summer. 'I'm ready, coach,' he would say. He worked hard to get ready. In the past he was not a formal leader, but he felt like a leader.
"He was really disappointed the way the Gophers played [last season] and tremendously frustrated. He thought he should be out there helping."
Barriball missed almost all of 2009-1- season because knee surgery. The NCAA gave him a fifth season because of medical hardship and he is off to a great start. Barriball has nine goals in 10 games.