The Big Ten announced today the regular season First and Second All-Conference Teams, as well as individual awards. Of course, the Minnesota Golden Gophers are well represented.
Leading the way for the Gophers is defenseman Mike Reilly (Columbus Blue Jackets), who was named to the First All-Conference Team and Defensive Player of the year. The Big Ten wrote-up Reilly better than I could in their announcement, so here it is.
Reilly was named Defensive Player of the Year for the second straight season after leading the conference in scoring from the blue line, tallying 27 points on three goals and 24 assists in conference play. He also paced all Big Ten players with 13 power-play points in conference games, leading a power-play unit that converted on 31.6 percent of its opportunities.
Ok, so they left out a couple of important facts like how he's the best skating defenseman in the league with fantastic agility, NHL level hands, and a fantastic knack for distributing the puck. Over the entire season, Reilly led the Gophers in scoring, forwards included. He added 6 goals to 36 assists in 36 games (1.667 per).
Three Gophers were named to the Second All-Conference Team: Seniors Kyle Rau (Florida Panthers) and Travis Boyd (Washington Capitals), and Junior Goaltender Adam Wilcox (Tampa Bay Lightning).
As everyone expected, Kyle Rau has been the most consistent player on the roster from the start of the season to now. He is second in scoring on the team, behind Reilly, with 39. He also leads the team with 19 goals. The senior captain has proven that he is worthy of the hype that surrounded his decision to return for his senior season. He's fast-approaching 160 career points.
Rau was also Minnesota's Big Ten Sportsmanship Award Honoree, so that should give you some level of understanding about how he's respected around the league.
Despite losing a significant amount of ice time to injury, Travis Boyd has been the Gophers deadliest weapon. He averages nearly 1.25 points per game, and his 16 goals include 6 game-winners. There's no doubt that some of the Gophers struggles in November were the result of Boyd's absence.
Adam Wilcox may not have matched the level of production from last season, but he's still had a very good year. He's managed to bring his GAA beneath 2.50 and his save percentage has nearly climbed up to .91. He also has five shutouts in 35 games played.
Brady Skjei (New York Rangers) was named to the honorable mention list. Skjei hasn't showed up on the score sheet too much, but he's been a rock for the Gophers in the defensive zone. If you remember, the freshman defenders have been through some tough times this year, but have been playing much better of late. No doubt their development has been largely influenced by Skjei and fellow senior defender Ben Marshall.
The Gophers enter post-season play on Friday afternoon in the Big Ten Tournament Semi-Final against the Winner of Ohio State and Penn State.
Download the full awards list here. All Big Ten Hockey 2015