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Updated: December 30th, 2012 1:08am
Myers: Fans meet the 'other' Reilly brother in Gophers' latest victory

Myers: Fans meet the 'other' Reilly brother in Gophers' latest victory

by Jess Myers

MINNEAPOLIS -- If you haven't heard of Gophers freshman forward Ryan Reilly, but his name kind of sounds familiar, that's understandable.

A few months ago, three Reilly brothers from the western suburbs arrived at the university en masse, and until Saturday night, Ryan was the one we hadn't heard much about, or from.

We heard about Ryan's twin brother, Connor, before the season even started, when he was lost for the season because of a knee injury suffered at a team party. We had heard plenty about Ryan's younger brother, Mike, before the season as well, as he came to Dinkytown as one of the most-heralded defense prospects in the nation.

But on this night, with both of his brothers elsewhere, Ryan grabbed a little of the spotlight in the Gophers' 4-0 win over Air Force. Playing in just his sixth collegiate game, Ryan buried a second-period feed from Christian Isackson behind Falcons goalie Jason Torf, for his first college goal.

"It was a great play from that line," Gophers coach Don Lucia said. "He went to the net and made a nice quick shot. I thought that was his best game he's played."

While Connor and the Reilly parents were in attendance, it's unlikely Mike even heard about Ryan's goal until later. The younger Reilly brother is currently on the other side of the world, literally, playing for Team USA at the World Junior Championships in Ufa, Russia, which is 12 time zones away from Minnesota.

Afterward, Ryan joked that he didn't expect to get a text from Russia, at least not right away.

Overall, he was just happy to be in the lineup.

"I've been doing really good in practice, and I knew this was my chance to play well," said Ryan, who is listed as 5-foot-7 and can generously be described as diminutive.

"I feel more comfortable using my speed rather than my strength because I know I'm not the biggest guy. But I have a big heart and I'm not going to quit on anything."

Against a team like Air Force, with goalie Adam Wilcox posting a shutout, that no-quit effort was enough.

York sets mark

A victory versus a no-name opponent in a mostly empty rink far, far from home would hardly be notable for Boston College coach Jerry York, especially compared to the NCAA titles and Beanpot titles and dozens of rivalry games he has won versus Boston University.

But Saturday afternoon's 5-2 win be the top-ranked Eagles over Alabama-Huntsville at Mariucci Arena happened to be the 925th of York's career, which makes him the all-time wins leader in college hockey history.

Typical of his quiet, unassuming nature, York barely cracked a smile when the final horn sounded, and he downplayed the significance of the milestone, surrounded by a scrum of reporters after the game.

"Glad to get it out of the way," said York, who won an NCAA title at Bowling Green in 1984, and has captured four more since taking over the coaching reins at his alma mater in 1994. "Coaches coach and we play to win trophies. Despite all the hoopla ... it never really entered my mind. We want to coach and we want to win hockey games, and that's never really a big concern of ours. Our mindset was just to start the second half of the year and chase trophies."

York was a grad assistant at Boston College in the late 1960s when the Eagles' head coach handed him a whistle and asked him to run practice. His first head coaching job was at Clarkson, and on Saturday he credited on-ice talent, at each stop, as the key to his success.

"A lot of good players, starting with Dave Taylor at Clarkson, Rob Blake at Bowling Green and a whole bunch of guys here," York said, noting that his typically low-key celebration of the milestone would feature a walk from the team hotel to Campus Pizza for dinner.

Lucia met York coming off the ice after Boston College's game and offered sincere congratulations.

"It's unbelievable, 925 games. He's been doing it a long time, and I told him I'm no threat," joked Lucia, who sits at 609 career wins after Saturday. "I won't be doing it that long."

The Gophers will try to deny York career win number 926 on Sunday evening in the Mariucci Classic finale.

Jess Myers covers the Wild and college hockey for He is a member of the editorial advisory board for USA Hockey Magazine.
Email Jess | @JessRMyers