Team: Harvard Crimson, ECAC
From: Andover, NH
Weight: 185 pounds
On March 2nd, 2019 Harvard's Men's Hockey received a bye in the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) postseason after a 4-1 victory over RPI to finish as a top-4 seed for the fourth straight year.
The Crimson victory sends New Jersey Devils defensive prospect Reilly Walsh into the post-season for a second straight season.
His Harvard squad finished their 29-game regular season schedule with a 17-9-3 record and an interconference record of 13-7-2 for a fourth-place finish in the ECAC and finished 13th in the NCAA Pairwise.
An Andover, New Hampshire native, Walsh was drafted in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft's third round, 81st overall by New Jersey. He was the fifth U.S.A. born defenseman chosen in the 2017 draft and has attended the last two Development Camps New Jersey hosted over the summer.
Currently in his sophomore season studying sociology, the 19-year-old is the team's second-leading scorer, hitting the scoresheet at a point-per-game clip with 29 points in 29 games. He has 11 goals and 18 assists and a plus-5 rating. He and fellow defenseman Adam Fox are Crimson's point leaders, both drafted into the NHL. Fox is a Carolina Hurricanes prospect, drafted by the Calgary Flames a year ahead of Walsh in 2016.
Walsh and Fox aren't the only Harvard blueliners to be drafted by NHL teams. Crimson's top-four defense corps also includes John Marino (Edmonton, 2015) and Jack Rathbone (Vancouver, 2017). Marino is Walsh's defensive partner on the second pairing.
Walsh has consistently been surrounded by hockey in his life. Through the influence of his father Mike, Reilly grew up a fan of the Boston Bruins and watching video clips of his favorite hockey player; beloved Bruins defenseman Bobby Orr. His father was no stranger to the game either, Mike attended and played four years of hockey for Colgate University in the ECAC. He also appeared in 14 NHL games for the New York Islanders back in the 1980s, and another 364 AHL contests. Mike is currently the head coach of Proctor Academy, where he coached his son from 2013 to 2017.
"My dad is the most influential person in my life," Walsh told MSG Networks in 2018. "He's been a coach of mine and a mentor as well. He's given me advice, right from wrong, always going out on the ice with me and giving me advice, teaching and coaching. Anything I really need, he's always been there for me and I wouldn't be here without him."
It was a partnership between father and son that finished on the ice with a Lakes Region Championship in Walsh's senior year at Proctor Academy - the Hornet's first title since 2008. He was a standout with 69 points in just 30 games that season. He also became the first defenseman since 1985-86 to lead a New England prep school in scoring.
That same year, he was a champion once again with the Chicago Steel of the USHL. Walsh was part of the team that won the first Clark Cup in franchise history.
Now at Harvard, Walsh is playing under head coach Ted Donato, veteran of 796 NHL games. Donato has been coach of the Ivy League team since 2004. Known as a demanding coach, Donato provides Walsh with the structure and experience necessary for the transition to the pro game.
"Reilly is playing for Ted Donato at Harvard and he is a very demanding coach who is an excellent teacher and stresses structure and discipline from his teams and players," New Jersey Devils defensemen development coach Eric Weinrich said.
"When Reilly arrived at school his game was a little loose, but he is learning how to use his skills within the structure of the team game," Weinrich added. "To play for a John Hynes team, these are many of the aspects a player must be proficient in to be successful as a Devil.
Weinrich let NewJerseyDevils.com know what type of player to expect:
"Reilly was drafted for his offensive attributes, specifically for his big shot. He plays the shooter position on the flank and is a threat every time he shoots the puck. This season he has become more of a smart puck mover and is handling pressure very well.
"He is the type of player who takes pride in his details with the puck and is able to make the tough small area plays," Weinrich added. "He has soft hands and good creativity. His play can sometimes look casual, but he makes many hard parts of the game look easy. As an organization, high-end skill is always a luxury, which is what Reilly can bring."
One thing is for certain: When he does make that decision to turn pro, it will also fulfill a dream.
"I definitely want to be a long time NHL player, a Stanley Cup champion," Walsh said to MSG Networks. "It's everything that any kid growing up playing hockey really dreams of. I think each year, the more I work, the harder I work it looks like it's getting closer and closer. I'm looking forward to what the future brings and any chance I can get to play for the Devils would be unbelievable."
To stay up-to-date on all Devils related news, follow the team on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram at @NJDevils. To follow Reilly Walsh on Instagram, fans can find him at @reilly_walsh2.