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.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Rams owner buys massive 520,000-acre Texas ranch

Cam Newton explains why he did not dive on fumble

George Karl’s agent rips Kings, wants broadcaster reprimanded

WATCH: Popovich has funny reaction to New Hampshire results

Suns vets pull packing peanut prank on rookie Devin Booker

Teammate gives Manning final completion ball from Super Bowl

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Ole Miss Football cited in 13 of 28 department violations by NCAA

Larry Sanders to consider NBA comeback after other interests stabilize

The NCAAB power rankings

SEC begins crying foul over Jim Harbaugh’s spring break plans at Michigan

Marc Gasol reportedly out indefinitely with broken foot

Patriots waive Montee Ball despite never officially re-signing running back

WATCH: Blackhawks coach walks out of press conference

Greg McElroy: Cam Newton 'quit on his team'

Tennis umpires secretly banned over gambling issues

WATCH: Dancing Kentucky fan slides down rail, fails

Clemson LB has great response to NFL draft analyst's criticism

Former Aggies QB Kyle Allen reveals culture problems at Texas A&M

Roy Williams collapses during game vs. BC

Panthers TE Greg Olsen shaves off his playoff beard

Derek Fisher thanks Knicks in statement

Miami Heat to honor Shaq by retiring his number 32

Oakland Raiders release Nate Allen

B.J. Penn announces he will return at UFC 197

Bring back the Dunk Contest

NHL 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 Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

The NCAAB power rankings

Report: Kings to keep coach George Karl

Was Alain Vigneault right about NHL's lack of punishment towards Wayne Simmonds?

Report: Knicks fire coach Derek Fisher

The best and worst commercials from Super Bowl 50

Best and worst from Super Bowl 50

Six best plays from Super Bowl 50

Eli doesn't look thrilled as Peyton wins Super Bowl

Did Beyonce almost fall down during Super Bowl halftime show?

Curry to serve as drummer for Panthers

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