Minnesota hockey adds another Reilly

Sophomore forward Caitlin Reilly displays her puck-handling skills at Ridder Arena on Monday afternoon.

James Healy

Sophomore forward Caitlin Reilly displays her puck-handling skills at Ridder Arena on Monday afternoon.

Emily Polglaze

The Reilly siblings have been a fixture in Minnesota hockey for the past three years, and now the youngest of them all, Caitlin, is ready to make a mark of her own. 
 
Reilly — one of six new additions to the women’s hockey team who were announced May 15, and one of nine new faces overall — is the youngest of five siblings.
 
All of them have played college hockey, and her three brothers played for the Gophers this year.
 
But Reilly said she’s determined to forge her own route.
 
“I want to make an impact and try to help the team get some wins,” Reilly said. “I’m excited to make my own path and not just be under the radar, under my brothers’ names.” 
 
The forward began her collegiate career at Penn State, totaling 16 points, six goals and 10 assists in 37 games during her rookie season. 
 
Despite her successful start, her family couldn’t always make the trip to Pennsylvania to watch her play.
 
“She would ask, ‘Why can’t you come?’ and if we could come the next weekend,” her mother, Lisa Reilly, said. 
 
For Caitlin Reilly, family comes first. She is the fourth Reilly sibling to play for the Gophers, and she credits her family as the biggest influence in her transfer decision. 
 
With brothers Connor and Ryan Reilly still on the men’s hockey team, Caitlin Reilly is excited to be able to share this experience with them.
 
“I really have that chance to have my brothers there supporting me,” she said. “They can continue to lead me in the right direction and push me in school and in hockey.” 
 
Lisa Reilly said playing for Minnesota has become very important to the family. Her husband, Mike, and sons, Connor, Ryan and Mike, have all skated for the hockey program. Lisa Reilly herself attended the University of Minnesota. 
 
Minnesota head coach Brad Frost said he thinks the close proximity to home will be helpful for Caitlin Reilly. 
 
“I think it’s a comfort factor,” Frost said. “[Her family] is close enough to be there for her and what she needs but far enough away to let her be herself and mature.”
 
Caitlin Reilly certainly admires her brothers; she said she learned how to be a good skater from Ryan Reilly, “how to score goals” from Connor Reilly and creativity on the ice from Mike Reilly. However, she also cites her connection with her sister, Shannon Reilly, as important in developing her game.
 
Lisa Reilly thinks Shannon influenced Caitlin the most. 
 
“Caitlin and Shannon both played boys’ hockey until Peewees,” Lisa Reilly said. “Shannon was able to help her, and they could share notes.”
 
Shannon Reilly went in a different direction from the rest of her family, playing at Ohio State, where she finished sixth in program history in points for a defenseman. 
 
Shannon Reilly said she’s been happy to be an example to her siblings as the first to play Division I hockey and to show Caitlin what it takes to get to the college level.
 
The defending national champion Gophers will open action on the road against Penn State this fall, and Reilly said she’s excited to head back to her former school. 
 
“[It] will be a little weird at first,” Caitlin Reilly said. “But it’s going to be a lot of fun for me.”
 
Though Caitlin Reilly is the last of her generation to play for Minnesota, she’s the lone woman and hopes to be a trailblazer in her own right. 
 
Coach Frost believes she can complete the task. 
 
“She’s a joy to be around,” Frost said. “She has the opportunity to be a part of something bigger than herself. She’s going to be an incredibly selfless player for us and somebody who will do whatever is best for our team.”