Left Hand Valley Courier - All Local, All The Time

By Jocelyn Rowley

Student-Athlete of the Week: Reilly Herbst


Courtesy Photo

Recent Niwot grad Reilly Herbst was drafted 90th overall by the Chicago Steel of the United States Hockey League on May 8.

Recent Niwot graduate Reilly Herbst loves everything about being a hockey goalkeeper—the equipment, being pelted with pucks, and especially the pressure.

“That’s the best part,” he said. “It’s the one position everyone looks at.”

The 18-year old also has his sights set on a career in the NHL, so earlier this month when he was offered a roster spot by the Chicago Steel of the United States Hockey League for their 2018-19 season, he leapt at his chance to join the country’s only Tier 1 junior developmental league.

“It’s the most skilled junior league in the world,” Herbst said. More than 40 players with USHL ties were drafted into the NHL in 2017. “For this age group, it’s the highest level you can play at. The best players around the country are in this league.”

Herbst knows of which he speaks. Back in March, the netminder had a brief stint with the 2017 Clark Cup Champions, who called him in as a backup when they lost their starting keeper to injury. Pleased with what they saw, the Steel drafted him 90th overall in the 6th round of the USHL Phase II draft on May 8, which came with an automatic invitation to their main tryout camp, held June 9-11 in Geneva, IL. There, Herbst was named to the Camp All-Star team, and eventually earned one of the two open keeper spots for the upcoming season.

“I was surprised to make the team, because there’s always a lot of good competition,” he said. “The goalie I beat out for the other spot is committed to Michigan State.”

There’s no question that Herbst has earned his spot in junior hockey’s highest ranks. Passionate about the sport from an early age, Herbst has played in elite circles since age 12, when he joined the Denver-based traveling team Colorado Thunderbirds. Hoping for a more competitive high school environment, Herbst relocated to Connecticut as a sophomore to play with Selects Academy at South Kent School. He returned to Niwot for his senior year, and spent a final season with the Thunderbirds, posting a 2.61 goals-against average and .905 save percentage.

Herbst reports to the Steel’s training camp in August, and the 70-plus game season gets underway in October, and runs through March. He doesn’t expect to be the opening day starter, but he is hoping to play about 45 percent of the Steel’s games.

Like more than 90 percent of USHL players, Herbst hopes to move on to Division I collegiate hockey, and considers the nearby University of Denver among his top choices, along with Notre Dame and schools in the Ivy League. Once in college, he tentatively plans to study marketing, but admitted he is “still trying to figure it out.” When he’s not playing hockey, Herbst enjoys hanging out with this family and friends, and going fishing or playing paintball with his brother.


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