Colorado Rubber

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Niwot’s Herbst rings in 21st birthday with commitment to NCAA Division I Ohio State


Many people want to celebrate their 21st birthday with a huge party.

Reilly Herbst went one level past that, deciding on his long-term future and committing to play NCAA Division I hockey for Ohio State University.

The Niwot native is enjoying his final season of junior eligibility with the USHL’s Omaha Lancers, a team he was traded to earlier this season from the Dubuque Fighting Saints.

He turned 21 on Feb. 17.

“The opportunity came out of nowhere,” Herbst said. “It’s been a really challenging year with COVID and I had only played five games this season when they offered me. Absolutely a dream come true. I always wanted to play at a Big Ten school.  

“The hockey program is fantastic with amazing facilities. I’m interested in studying business and they have one of the top business schools in the country. I’m also a very big college football and basketball fan, so I’m very excited to experience those games.”

Aside from business, Herbst said he is also looking at the school’s nutrition and kinesiology curriculum.

In addition to Dubuque and Omaha, Herbst played the 2018-19 season for the USHL’s Chicago Steel and 2019-20 in the BCHL for the Vernon Vipers.

Growing up, Herbst played Squirts and Pee Wees for the Boulder Bison before playing AAA for the Colorado Thunderbirds for a couple years. After being cut from the Thunderbirds’ 16U team, Herbst played for the Selects Academy prep school in Connecticut for two years before coming back to Colorado for his senior year of high school to play 18U for the Thunderbirds.

“My most memorable coaches were my 18U T-Bird coaches Kelly Hollingshead and Matt Anthone,” Herbst said. “I was the only goalie on the team for most of the season and they believed in me so much and let me develop and play all of the games.”

Looking back on his youth, Herbst said he has realized the sacrifices people made to help him live his dream.

“Some of my best memories as a kid were driving to Thunderbird practices with my parents,” said Herbst. “We live about an hour away from where the T-Birds practiced, so I spent a lot of hours in the car with my parents. I was so lucky I had amazing parents that put their lives on hold to help me with my hockey. 

“I started playing hockey because my older brother played. I was a huge Patrick Roy fan, and I was in love with goalie equipment. I never wanted to be a player, only a goalie. I used to spend hours bouncing tennis balls against my wall and practicing making glove saves.”

With his NCAA commitment in place and the rest of the season in front of him, Herbst can now focus on both the short term and long term.

“My long-term goal is to see how far I can take hockey,” Herbst said. “I want to leave no stone unturned and whenever I’m done, I’ll be OK with that and I’ll find another passion to try and excel at.

“I’m just trying to get as good as possible and enjoy the last couple months of juniors.”

Photo/Chicago Steel/USHL

— Matt Mackinder

(March 6, 2021)

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