Former St. Michael’s Buzzers standout Reilly Smith is a Stanley Cup champion.
The Ontario Junior Hockey League grad’s Vegas Golden Knights defeated the Florida Panthers 9-3 in Las Vegas Tuesday to win the Cup final in five games.
Following the official postgame presentations, Golden Knights captain Mark Stone handed the Cup to Smith, giving him the honour of being the second player to hoist it.
Smith and Stone are two of the six Vegas “Golden Misfits” from the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft. Jonathan Marchessault, William Karlsson, Shea Theodore, Brayden McNabb and William Carrier are the others in that club.
“I knew it was going to be one of those guys,” Stone told NHL.com. “Reilly, with the leadership that he brings, being an (alternate) captain of this team, he was the guy I wanted to give it to.”
Smith said Stone told him of his plan as time was winding down.
“He tipped me off right at the end there,” Smith said. “That’s an amazing moment. It’s an amazing feeling. To share it with these guys, there’s no one else I’d want to go through this journey with.”
Smith, who was acquired in a trade with Florida on June 21, 2017, the day of the Expansion Draft, is one of three players to have played in all 88 Stanley Cup Playoffs games in Golden Knights history. The others, forwards Marchessault and Karlsson, were the next two to receive the Cup.
Smith celebrated on the ice with his family, even placing daughter Isla in the Cup.
Now 32, he began his NHL career with the Dallas Stars back in 2011-12 after being drafted by that club in 2009 in the third round (69th overall).
Smith moved to the Boston Bruins and then the Florida Panthers for two seasons each before joining the Nevada-based club in its first-ever NHL campaign in 2017. Reilly has worn that “A” since the Knights’ inception.
Smith has scored 200 goals and assisted on another 273 in 764 NHL regular season games. In 106 playoff games, he has accumulated 79 more points.
The Mimico product launched his two-year career in the Ontario Junior Hockey League in 2007-08, playing 13 games for the Toronto-based Buzzers.
Smith’s next season in the OJHL was huge. He scored 27 times while accumulating 75 points. He started that regular season with a four-point outing against Markham and just rolled on from there. He added an amazing nine goals and 15 points in just six playoff contests against the Toronto Junior Canadiens, which included two four-point nights.
Reilly would spend the next three seasons at NCAA Division 1 Miami University at Ohio where he was captain in his final year. In 2011-12, he reached the coveted 30-goal mark.
Buzzers General Manager and Head Coach Rich Ricci remembered Reilly as “the last of the three Smith brothers to play for us.”
Brendan, 34, has played 631 NHL games with the Detroit Red Wings, New York Rangers, Carolina Hurricanes and New Jersey Devils. The defenceman has one year remaining on his contract in New Jersey.
Rory, 36, played in the National Lacrosse League from 2008-16.
“Reilly was a quiet but confident low-maintenance under-ager,” Ricci told Ron Valentine of the OJHL in 2020. “Blessed with very good vision and skating, Reilly knew how to find open space and areas to score. His offensive instincts were top notch and he had the family trait of a mean streak, too. Not overly physical, Reilly would not back down from bigger, older and stronger players. We knew he was a special player early on. We are so happy for his continued success in the NHL.”
Smith was one of 30 former OJHL players on NHL rosters at the beginning of the 2022-23 season. The OJHL led the nine-league Canadian Junior Hockey League in this category.
His NHL files:
-with files and photo from nhl.com and Ron Valentine