Brendan O’Reilly received a very special phone call a few weeks back when he was contacted by the Tri-City Americans of the Western Hockey League about a position on their team, which includes top under-21 players from around the world.
The Southlake teen accepted and soon found himself on his way to Washington state for a two-week stint on the club, which O'Reilly said was pretty incredible.
“There was no question about whether or not I was going to go, because it’s the next step for me in my career,” O'Reilly said. “But a lot of weight was lifted off my shoulders in signing the contract, which doesn't always mean that you'll play. I was not expecting it this early. I thought it would happen more towards the playoffs at the end of the year.”
Tri-City general manager Bob Tory said in a news release that there was no question that O'Reilly would eventually get the call up.
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“He was at camp and had a good camp,” Tory said. “We signed him, and he was the first player on our depth chart.”
O’Reilly signed a Standard WHL players contract and will earn one year of full college tuition and other expenses for attending UT Austin for each hockey season he plays for the Americans.
O’Reilly, 16, plays for the Dallas Stars Elite Hockey Club and played for the Americans from Dec. 26-Jan. 5.
The Southlake resident said that playing for the Americans was quite an experience for him.
“You are definitely treated like a pro,” O’Reilly said. “You go there to try to get to the NHL. The speed of the game from what I was used to is a lot different. It was tough.”
O’Reilly said his passion for the sport of hockey started at a very young age.
“My dad put me in hockey when I was four, and my whole family kind of just fell in love with it,” O’Reilly said. “My older brother and younger brother both play. We've become a hockey family.”
O’Reilly did play a few games with the Carroll High School team over the summer, but has focused most of his efforts on the Dallas Stars Elite team and said he definitely has an ultimate goal for the sport.
“Right now, I would like to go up there an make that team full time,” O’Reilly said. “After that, my major goal is to get drafted into the NHL.”