Though part of a hockey family, Caitlin Reilly makes her own mark

The Gophers senior is the fourth person in her family to play for the Gophers.

Forward senior Caitlin Reilly skates down the ice with puck at Ridder Arena on Sunday, Oct. 29.

Easton Green, Daily File Photo

Forward senior Caitlin Reilly skates down the ice with puck at Ridder Arena on Sunday, Oct. 29.

Max Biegert

Senior Caitlin Reilly comes from a family deeply rooted in Minnesota hockey, but she has made her own name on the ice this season.

Reilly, who transferred from Penn State after her freshman year, was the Gophers’ leading returning goal scorer with eight goals last season. Reilly has already matched her 15 total points scored from last year and is fourth on the team in points behind Sophie Skarzynski, Sydney Baldwin and Grace Zumwinkle. Reilly has six goals to go with her nine assists and finds herself as one of the Gophers skaters who has had to take on a bigger role as the Gophers lost a few players to Olympic training.

“Really from the start of the year she has done a really nice job for us,” head coach Brad Frost said. “We need her leadership and her ability to put the puck in the net.”

Reilly grew up in Chanhassen, Minnesota with her older sister and three older brothers.  Her siblings, Shannon, Connor, Ryan and Mike all played Division I hockey. Caitlin’s dad, Mike Sr., and her three brothers, all played for the Gophers. Her sister played for Ohio State. Her brother Mike Reilly is playing defense for the Minnesota Wild and signed a two-year contract with them before their season started.

The homemade rink

From the moment Caitlin Reilly was old enough to get skates on, her father brought her to the homemade rink in their front yard and they would skate with the family. Mike Reilly said it was a very competitive household growing up and anything they did, whether it was knee hockey or video games, the siblings would want to beat each other. 

Caitlin Reilly is maybe the most competitive person, Mike Reilly said. Whenever Caitlin would come hang out with her siblings, Mike Reilly said he and his brothers picked on Caitlin to let her know she was the youngest. She wasn’t afraid to get them back, however. Mike said it is hard to see how competitive she is because her welcoming personality, but he thinks it is one of the strengths in her game. 

“Being the youngest, she took a lot of heat from us brothers and Shannon, my brothers were hard on me, but we were a lot harder on Caitlin,” Mike Reilly said. “She is always upbeat, likes to include a lot of people, but she has that little competitive edge to her where she doesn’t take no for an answer.” 

Reilly played at Benilde-St. Margaret’s, where she totaled 106 goals and 103 assists in her career. She was a finalist for the Ms. Hockey award in 2014 after scoring 44 goals and recording 40 assists in her senior season alone. 

Coming out of high school, she was highly recruited and decided to play at Penn State. In doing so, she went down a path that her dad, Mike Reilly and three brothers didn’t. In her first year at Penn State, she netted six goals and 10 assists, being named a three-time CHA Rookie of the Week. Caitlin said she chose the Nittany Lions because the team was a program on the rise.

“On top of getting away from Minnesota for a little bit,” Caitlin said. “I am really fortunate for my experience there and I am really glad I was able to go there for a year.”

Coming to the Gophers

When Reilly transferred to Minnesota, she did not need to sit out because she went from the CHA to the WCHA. The senior came to Minnesota to be closer to home so her family could come watch her more. With this being her third year at Minnesota, Caitlin Reilly said she is becoming more comfortable on the ice. 

“I think it is really good for her this year [not sitting out], because with all the girls going to the Olympics and whatnot, she kind of gets a bigger role,” Mike Reilly said. “She is having fun and gets to see me quite a bit and obviously went to school with Connor and Ryan for a year or two as well.”

As for adding to the Reilly legacy, Caitlin Reilly says it is nothing she is worried about. 

“It is really important to be kind of be my own person and you know, obviously, I love hockey but is not something that I am going to do in the long run like my brothers are trying to pursue,” Caitlin Reilly said. “You know [I will] do what I can for my own name but at the end of the day I am lucky to have older siblings that have lead the way.”