Originally posted on Fox Sports North  |  Last updated 12/30/12
MINNEAPOLIS Standing just 5-foot-7, Ryan Reilly is the smallest member of the Gophers men's hockey team. On Saturday, though, the Minnesota freshman made a big impact in the Gophers' 4-0 win over Air Force. Reilly netted the first goal of his college career, scoring 5:34 into the second period to give Minnesota a 2-0 lead. The goal came in Reilly's sixth career game as the freshman forward has had to battle for ice time this season. He made the most of his ice time Saturday and possibly earned more of it after his impressive performance. "He hasn't played in a while. We wanted to get him back in tonight to see how he would do," said Gophers coach Don Lucia. "He answered the bell. When a guy plays like that, then he deserves to keep playing." With the Gophers up 1-0 in the second period, Reilly and Minnesota's fourth line battled for the puck in the Air Force end. When sophomore Christian Isackson found Reilly cutting to the net, Reilly buried the centering pass to beat Falcons goalie Jason Torf. "It was a great play from that line. They went to the net for a nice, quick shot," said Lucia said. "I thought that was (Reilly's) best game he's played. . . . I thought the line played well with Isackson and Justin (Holl), who almost scored in the first period as well. So we had good play throughout our lineup tonight." Reilly came to Minnesota as one of three brothers on the team. He and his twin brother, Connor, graduated from Holy Angels, while older brother Mike spent time at Shattuck-St. Mary's in Faribault. Connor has yet to play for the Gophers, however, as he suffered a season-ending knee injury before the year began. Meanwhile, older brother Mike, a draft pick of the Columbus Blue Jackets, has 10 points (two goals, eight assists) in 17 games for the Gophers. He wasn't at Mariucci Arena to see his younger brother's first goal, though, as he's currently playing for Team USA at the World Juniors tournament in Russia. For one night, at least, Ryan was the star Reilly in the Minnesota lineup. "It felt really good," Reilly said of his goal. "Isackson made a great play down low and fed me. Luckily, I was there and put it away." Reilly's parents, Mike, Sr., and Lisa, were at Mariucci to see Ryan's first goal as a Gopher. The Reilly family didn't make the trip to Russia to watch Mike represent the United States in the World Juniors, so they were part of the 10,113 in attendance Saturday to see Reilly help Minnesota beat Air Force. Across the globe, Mike Reilly and Team USA will play Canada at 3 a.m. Sunday morning in one of the most highly anticipated games of the tournament. Will Ryan be up early to watch his brother? "I don't think so," he said. "Maybe my brother and my parents will, but I wish him luck in his games." Ryan Reilly and his Gophers teammates will need their rest after Saturday's win. Minnesota will now face Boston College on Sunday in the final game of the Mariucci Classic. The Eagles are the defending national champions -- knocking out Minnesota in last year's Frozen Four in the process -- and are currently ranked No. 1 in college hockey. Lucia said Reilly will be in the lineup again Sunday, just his seventh game of the season. After his strong play Saturday, he showed he earned it. "I knew this was my chance to play well. It felt good getting a goal," Reilly said. "I definitely feel more comfortable, just using my speed and quickness 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." Follow Tyler Mason on Twitter.
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Report: Rob Gronkowski in good spirits, Patriots optimistic he'll play in Super Bowl LII

Astros' Jon Singleton receives 100-game suspension

Bills LB Lorenzo Alexander critical of NCAA rules concerning his brother

Jalen Rose: ‘Kawhi Leonard wants out of San Antonio’

WWE fires Enzo Amore in wake of rape accusation

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Tyronn Lue says it’s ‘crazy’ to scapegoat Kevin Love for Thunder loss

Report: NFL wants Raiders to sign Kaepernick after Rooney ruling

Jay Feely: Gisele tried to get me to convince Tom Brady to retire

Raiders to make a run at Le’Veon Bell if he becomes free agent?

Law enforcement to keep close eye on Tom Brady’s jersey, other items at Super Bowl

Joe Thomas shades Big Ben while talking up Todd Haley

The 'OK, so it's not always good to be The King' quiz

How to stop a Pats comeback: Never think you're ahead

How the Philadelphia Eagles arrived at Super Bowl LII

How the New England Patriots arrived at Super Bowl LII

Close calls: 20 MLB greats who came closest to Cooperstown but never made it

Nine reasons why the Eagles will beat the Patriots in Super Bowl LII

The surprising failure of Jason Kidd

How things have changed since last Eagles-Pats Super Bowl

The Chicago Bulls' future is on the clock

Position-by-position breakdown of Super Bowl LII teams

The 'More things change...' quiz

Greatest surprise Super Bowl stars

Blue Jackets News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Yardbarker Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

Close calls: 20 MLB greats who came closest to Cooperstown but never made it

The 'OK, so it's not always good to be The King' quiz

How to stop a Pats comeback: Never think you're ahead

How the Philadelphia Eagles arrived at Super Bowl LII

Greatest surprise Super Bowl stars

Position-by-position breakdown of Super Bowl LII teams

Oldest players to ever be on Super Bowl rosters

The 'More things change...' quiz

How the New England Patriots arrived at Super Bowl LII

Players with the most Super Bowl appearances

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker