As Minnesota fights to extend its year, one player's season is officially over.
Head coach Don Lucia announced Wednesday that Connor Reilly would be shut down for the remainder of the season. The redshirt sophomore forward, who had come back from two previous knee surgeries, underwent another in Vail, Colorado on Tuesday.
"He should be back and ready to go when September rolls around," he said without going in-depth about the specifics and severity of the surgery. (Reilly later clarified in an Instagram post thanking everyone for their support that it's his right knee.) "I feel bad for Connor and what he has had endure and one more injury. We just felt at this point it would be better for him to have the surgery so he's healthy when next year rolls around."
Reilly was leading Minnesota in goals with 11 at the time of the injury. The 23 year-old was injured on January 31st against Wisconsin when Badgers' sophomore Corbin McGuire hit Reilly with a knee on knee hit. McGuire was given a 5 minute major and suspended for a game for the hit.
Lucia was hopeful initially that he could come back after a month, but Reilly was unable to skate or practice.
It's a disappointing end given how much Reilly had gone through to come back to the level he did. Connor missed the entire 2012-13 season after a pair of surgeries and slowly worked his way up to the first line this season. He spent time working with a mental coach to change his attitude and thought process. He texted every day for three weeks on what he wanted to do and worked on changing his thought process.
In addition, Reilly also worked on the ice with the Gopher coaching staff to improve on getting to pucks faster and skating, adding both to an arsenal which includes a heavy shot.
"I think talking to (Coach) Potulny, just seeing video and seeing things with my own eyes, it was definitely helpful because I know I can work harder in certain areas and be quicker on pucks. Just seeing that on video when there's different examples when I was going hard and other times when I wasn't going hard enough," Connor said to SB Nation College Hockey back in January. "It was just nice to see that visually."
Dr. Robert LaPrade, who performed both prior surgeries, once again did so, said Lucia.
Connor was one of three Reilly brothers on this year's team with twin brother Ryan and younger brother Mike, who was supportive Wednesday and believed he'd be back as good as ever.
"I think Connor stepped up big time this year," Mike told SB Nation College Hockey.
The Gophers, on the bubble for the NCAA Tournament right now, sit tied with Michigan for second place in the Big Ten with 33 points. Minnesota hosts Penn State on Friday and Saturday in the final regular season series.
Nathan Wells is a college hockey columnist for SB Nation mostly covering both the University of Minnesota and Big Ten. You can also follow him on Twitter -- Follow @gopherstate