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Left wing Shannon Reilly is putting together a solid junior season for the Amity-North Haven-Cheshire girls’ hockey team this winter. Shannon, a North Haven junior, has eight goals with four assists for the Blades, who are 9-3. (Photo courtesy of Shannon Reilly )
Shannon Reilly (right) recently recorded a hat trick when the Blades’ girls’ ice hockey squad notched a 7-5 win against Avon-Southington-East Granby-RHAM on Jan. 2. Shannon is an assistant captain for the team this season. (Photo by Chris Eadevito/North Haven Courier )
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Shannon Reilly loves to mix it up on the ice and battle it out with the competition for loose pucks. Shannon, a junior at North Haven High School, plays left wing for the Amity-North Haven-Cheshire girls’ ice hockey team and is an integral part of the Blades’ offense.
Thus far this season, Shannon has been on a scoring surge with eight goals under her belt, including a hat trick against Avon-Southington-EastGranby-RHAM. Shannon and the Blades have a record of 9-3 after reaching their conference final the past two years, winning it when Shannon was a freshman.
Typically, Shannon looks to pass the puck to her teammates more so than shoot, but she often scores goals by cleaning up the scraps that rebound off the opposing goalie. It’s through this grind-it-out mentality that Shannon gets her goals, and it also earned her the title of assistant captain this winter.
When Shannon netted her recent hat trick, it was an important turning point in the Blades’ 7-5 win against the Nighthawks. With her team down 3-1 in the second period, Shannon scored two goals to tie the game, before sealing the trifecta with another goal in the third. The victory proved a big boost for Shannon and her squad.
“It was exciting. It was very hard to get the three goals,” says Shannon, who also has four assists this year. “All of my teammates came up and hugged me. They were really happy for me.”
Shannon has always been an offensive-minded player. She learned a lot of her technique from her older brother Corey Reilly, who plays left wing for the North Haven boys’ ice hockey team. Shannon believes that working on drills and playing with her brother on their backyard ice rink is paying dividends for her this season—and the proof is on the score sheet.
“He started three years before I did. I was always at the rink watching him play, and I started to like it since I was there so much,” says Shannon of her brother. “We have a rink in our backyard that we practice on, and we try to do new drills together. It helps a lot. My shot has improved since I’ve been out there. We set up cones, and it helps me with my edges. And when I miss the ice, I can go out there.”
Even though her shot has improved, Shannon mostly aims to help her teammates get shots on net. She knows the strengths of her fellow forwards and tries to play to those skills. When there’s a puck bouncing around the offensive zone, Shannon looks to outwork her opponents to gain possession, so the Blades can score a goal one way or the other.
“I like to pass it to my teammates a lot and get the rebounds off the goalie from their shots. I also like to work the corners and win the battles. When I have the puck, I like to bring it all the way in and go wide and pass it to the center to give her the shot. Then if it goes off into the corner, I like to try to win that battle and get it back to the center. I always believe an assist is just as important as a goal,” Shannon says. “My right wing has a really good shot. My center is really good at deking. I like to get it to her so she can deke the goalie.”
Blades’ Head Coach John Peschell has seen Shannon lay it on the line game after game, and that’s why he named her assistant captain for her junior season. Peschell believes that Shannon’s desire to make the play that best benefits the Blades gives her an edge over her competitors, and he knows that type of drive also makes her a quality leader.
“She’s beginning to show her leadership ability. She works the puck well and looks to distribute to her teammates,” says Peschell. “She’s a grinder and a playmaker. She wins battles, and it’s really just hard work. She’s one of the guttiest players that we’ve ever had. She wants it more than anyone else.”
As assistant captain, Shannon and the other captains are always there to keep the team positive if things aren’t going their way on the ice. Shannon loves having that responsibility.
“We get the team pumped up before games. If they have a bad shift, we just talk them up so they don’t beat themselves down,” says Shannon. “It means a lot to me to have a leadership role with the club, and to have that ‘A’ on my jersey.”
Shannon is also already planning ahead for life after high school and wants to continue playing hockey in college. She hopes to stay in New England and currently has her eyes set on Endicott College in Beverly, Massachusetts.
“I want to play in college, and I’m already talking to some schools. I’m looking at Endicott College in Massachusetts,” says Shannon who thanks her brother Corey and her parents, Pete and Kim Reilly. “I want to major in athletic training. So I’m taking anatomy, and I’m taking sports management, which is helping me a lot. I’m going to take health careers next year.”
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