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Carroll Sophomore Commits to Play Hockey at University of Nebraska Omaha

Jan 22, 2016 03:59PM ● Published by Kevin

Carroll sophomore Ryan O'Reilly inside Baxter Arena at the University of Nebraska Omaha.

Ryan O'Reilly, 15-year-old sophomore at Carroll High School, and one of the top 2000-birth-year forwards in the country, recently announced his commitment to play Division I ice hockey at the University of Nebraska Omaha. Head coach Dean Blais secured verbal commitment from O'Reilly, and the announcement was made on Jan. 12.

The Dallas Stars Elite U16 team player chose the University Of Nebraska Omaha over several other top D1 schools and turning down an opportunity to play in the Western Hockey League for the Tri-City Americans. He was drafted by the Washington-state major junior ice hockey program in May.

After realizing that route would cost his NCAA eligibility, O'Reilly went on to select the Mavericks for its prestige in Division I.

"The team appeared in the final four last year, called Frozen Four, they were ranked No. 1 this year and have remained in the top 10," O'Reilly said. "The head coach Dean Blais has previously won two NCAA D1 National Championships, was college coach of the year several times, has coached the USA National Team, and NHL Ohio Blue Jackets."

The new Baxter Arena at the University of Nebraska Omaha.

Elite Prospects listed O'Reilly as one of its notable prospects to watch list for the 2018 NHL Draft. UNO hockey has nine NHL-drafted players on its active roster. This, and the fact that the university just opened is $90 million project - Baxter Arena and training facility - on campus in October 2015, also contributed to O'Reilly's decision to join the Mavericks.

"With all home games being sold out, they have one of the largest attendance rates in NCAA D1 hockey," he said. "I liked the smaller teacher student ratio of the university and the reputation the university has for the major that I am interested in studying."       
 
O'Reilly is an elite offensive talent with a high-end skillset. As of Dec. 26, at the midpoint of the season, he was tied for the lead in the top national U16 Tier 1 Elite Hockey League for the 2000 birth year in goals scored as well as was tied for 8th overall in the T1EHL league in goals scored.   

"Very good draft filled with talent and scoring and some of the best dark horse picks highlighted by Jaxon Nelson and Ryan O’Reilly," Western Elite Hockey Prospects reported in May. "Ryan O’Reilly has been widely regarded as one of the top prospects from the western USA for a couple years now."

In addition, The Scouting News named O'Reilly one of the best prospects, and said he's one of the "guaranteed next level top 9 impact players (at the worst)."
 
At 6'0" and 180 pounds, he is expected to grow at least as tall as his older brother Brendan O'Reilly, who is 6'4" and 215 pounds and is currently playing defense for the WHL Tri-City Americans.

His other older brother, Michael, also has played at the highest levels of Tier 1 AAA youth hockey and then went on to play in Juniors. He now plays club hockey at Texas A&M.

"I have learned a lot from both of them on how to best compete and train at each level as well as how to balance out the training with school," Ryan said. "They have both been great role models. My brother Brendan who plays in the WHL, was the 
youngest player invited to the NHL Dallas StarsDevelopment Camp this past summer as well as he won student of year from his team for carrying a 4.0 GPA last year while playing."

Ryan has traveled the United States, Canada, Sweden and Russian to pursue his passion. He's played on teams that have participated in USA National Hockey Championships, and won state and regional championships. He's played hockey since the young age of 4.

"I have been fortunate to have received great training from the coaches each year," he said. "While football is certainly the most popular sport, the [district] and [community] certainly supports and cheers on all students to achieve the highest level of success both in school and with any extracurricular activities. My teachers and counselor at Carroll High School have been particularly supportive in helping me achieve success in the classroom and balance out the heavy training schedule I have."

In the short term, Ryan hopes to lead his Dallas Stars U16 team victory in the TX Tier 1 State and USA Hockey Regional Championships to move on to play in the Tier 1 USA Hockey National Championships. He also aspires to receive an invitation to attend the USA Hockey U17 National Team Development Program evaluation camp where the top 50 players born in 2000 will be invited to attend the tryouts in March for the national team.  

In the long term, the goal would be to continue to develop to reach the NHL level. 

"Since I am 15, I will need to play in the Juniors for a few years before I can start playing hockey at the University Of Nebraska Omaha," he said.

Photos and information in part contributed by Robert Woodsmall.

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