It’s home sweet home for Mike Reilly.
The former Penticton Vees defenceman has inked a two-year entry-level contract with the Minnesota Wild, the NHL club announced on its website July 1.
Reilly was originally selected by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the fourth round, 98th overall of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.
After signing with the Wild, Reilly posted a message on Twitter.
“Proud to be apart of the @mnwild organization! Thanks for all the support from everyone over the years.”
“Definitely couldn’t predict it,” Reilly said on the Wild’s website. “Now that it’s here, it’s kind of surreal.”
After months of deliberation, Reilly picked his hometown team over other suitors, including Chicago, where he was born.
“Growing up, going to games, kind of the back of your mind, you sit there and kind of dream about a little bit of potentially playing here,” Reilly said. “But I definitely did not predict it to actually happen.”
Reilly, 21, collected 42 points, including 36 assists in 39 games during his junior season at the University of Minnesota. The 6-foot-1, 182-pound blueliner was named a Hobey Baker Memorial Award Finalist and led National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) defencemen in scoring and assists. He also led the NCAA with 19 power-play assists and tied for third in the nation with 21 power-play points and tied for eighth with a plus-25 rating.
The Chicago native, who grew up in Chanhassen, Minn., was named a First Team All-American and the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year following his sophomore and junior seasons. Reilly helped the U.S. men’s national team win a bronze medal at the 2015 World Championship recording one assist in 10 games. He recorded 33 points in 41 games in 2013-14 and totaled 89 points, including 18 goals, and 76 penalty minutes in 117 games in three seasons with the Gophers. Reilly also won a gold medal at the 2013 World Junior Championship and bronze medal at the 2011 World Junior A Hockey Challenge.
Reilly, who will wear No. 4 with the Wild, was part of the Vees’ team that won a Canadian Junior Hockey League record 42 straight games in 2011-12 and an RBC Cup.
The Wild later inked another former Vee to a contract. Zac Dalpe, 25, signed a one-year, two-way contract. He tallied three points in 21 games with the Buffalo Sabres and 28 points in 44 contests with the Rochester Americans in the American Hockey League (AHL) last season. He has 20 points in 117 career NHL matches in parts of five seasons with Carolina, Vancouver and Buffalo.
McKenzie remains a Star
Another former Vee to sign an NHL contract was Curtis McKenzie, who was given a two-year extension by the Dallas Stars, the club announced. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
“Curtis is a very mature young player who is hard-nosed and accountable,” Nill said on the team’s website. “We look for him to continue growing all facets of his game and develop into an everyday NHL player.”
McKenzie, 24, who played for the Vees from 2007-09, made his National Hockey League debut in 2014-15, scoring four goals and five points with 48 penalty minutes in 36 games. He also played 31 games with the Dallas’ AHL affiliate, the Texas Stars, where he scored six goals and finished with 21 points.