A family passion
Tara O’Reilly of the Carleton Ravens comes by her hockey pedigree honestly — both her brothers are in the NHL
The O’Reilly family may just be the new version of today’s hockey family.
Brothers Cal, 23, and Ryan, 18, play in the NHL, while sister Tara, 21, is captain of Carleton University’s women’s hockey team and Shannon, 12, the youngest of the four siblings, plays minor hockey.
Cal is a centre with the Nashville Predators and hopes to make this his first full season in the NHL after spending the last three in the American Hockey League with the Milwaukee Admirals.
Younger brother Ryan, drafted 33rd overall by the Colorado Avalanche this past summer, is having a strong start to his rookie season with two goals and 11 points after 13 games.
“It’s great having a great big hockey family,” says Cal. “We grew up playing hockey together and we all understand what it takes.”
While Cal and Ryan loved the game from the time they were old enough to hold a stick, Tara didn’t take to the game until she was in Grade 8. Meanwhile, Shannon took to the game at an early age and is showing promise.
“I spent a lot of time in rinks and thought it might be fun to play,” says Tara. “I had played ringette so I had the skating.”
Over the years, Tara quickly improved and made Carleton’s varsity team as a walkon.
“It’s been a pretty big learning curve since I got here,” says Tara, who plays centre and occasionally on the wing for the Ravens. “I barely made the team, but every year I seem to be improving.”
Both brothers are extremely happy for their sister and say she deserves much credit for her hard work and perseverance.
“I’m really proud of her,” said Ryan. “She started playing hockey really late. Eventually, she became captain of her team and is a great player. In the summer, she skates with all of us and she keeps up.”
Every summer, Cal and Ryan return to their hometown of Varna, north of Lon- don, to train for the upcoming season and Tara can usually be found working out right alongside.
“She does great every summer,” said Cal. “She keeps up with us and works just as hard.”
“She’s probably one of the hardest workers in the camp we have during the summer,” added Ryan. “She keeps up. She’s there every day and doesn’t complain about anything. She’s always there and gives everything she has.”
Tara laughs when she recalls how Cal and Ryan weren’t so enthused to have her play with them and now they enjoy giving her tips to improve her game.
“It’s pretty great,” she said. “But it still feels funny when they talk about me playing hockey to other people or I hear my name mentioned in an article.”
But there’s little doubt of her brothers’ admiration for what she accomplishes both on and off the ice.
“She didn’t really get into it for a while, but she was always definitely the brains of our family,” said Ryan. “The boys were always the ones fighting and she was the smarter one.”
Tara is in her fourth year of human rights and law and she hopes to one day become a lawyer. Next year, she hopes to study overseas to do her masters.
In the meantime, she’s enjoying watching her brothers play the game they love.
“From the time they were little all they talked about was making it to the NHL,” said Tara. “It’s so exciting because we know how much it means to them.”
Tara was thrilled to see Cal play at Scotiabank Place last week when the Predators came to town and she’s anxious to see Ryan and the Avalanche on Dec. 30.