As you’ll read in Tuesday’s paper, the Golden Gopher hockey program looks pretty good for the future.
Sioux Falls trio Christian Isackson and fraternal twins Connor and Ryan Reilly are all Minnesota commits and all three played a large role in the team’s 3-1 over the Force on Monday. Ryan Reilly scored the opening goal before Isackson finished the night with a two-goal performance. Connor Reilly, though pointless, did his part by playing more of a two-way game by forechecking and backchecking.
This all comes with Gophers head coach Don Lucia at Scheels Arena for the game.
Sioux Falls had a bit of a sluggish start to the season but is now fourth in the USHL’s Western Conference standings following a five-game winning streak.
Winning sure makes things easy. Like interviews for example. When the equipment manager told the trio they were being interviewed, the locker room erupted and all three came out smiling.
Those smiles got even bigger when talking about the place they’ll be calling home for the next few years.
“Everyone growing up in Minnesota is a Gopher fan,” said Connor Reilly, who played high school hockey at Holy Angels with his brother. “My brother and I along with our family grew up going to games. It was always a top-notch experience and it was pretty simple to commit there.”
Ryan Reilly added he and his brother wanted to attend a school where they could have fun. They also wanted to be at a school where their parents could watch them play.
What better fit than playing in your backyard?
“Being with my brother,” Ryan Reilly said. “It made it a good thing and the fact that it is a place that a lot of kids want to go.”
Isackson, who played at St. Thomas Academy, committed to Minnesota in his junior year.
He knew of the Reillys from playing against them in the Minnesota High School Elite League.
Those not familiar with the Elite League, just know this, there’s really good talent. Players from the top programs across the state are sent invitations to play at the Elite League camp. Following tryouts, the powers-that-be will notify players if they’ve made the cut.
Isackson and the Reillys were fortunate enough to get that chance. Isackson remembers all too well how good the Reillys were.
“They were not always the biggest guys,” he said. “But if you go too far, they can take the puck away from you and start to dangle.”