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Brian Riley Looks Back at Family Hockey History



By Warren Kozireski —

Army head coach Brian Riley was able reminisce about his family and their legacy at Dartmouth University while his Black Knights participated in the 30th annual Ledyard Bank tournament held the weekend after Christmas.

Brian’s father, Jack, along with uncles Joe and Bill helped the Big Green reach the finals in 1948 and 1949. All three are inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame.

“I walked around the rink today and I stopped and read the 100 years of Dartmouth hockey and the parts about my dad and my uncles, Riley said. “I was actually rubbing their names to see if we could get some good luck.

“Dartmouth hockey is really special to the Riley family and, as a kid growing up, just to hear all of their stories…and then to be able to come up here and kind of feel it and see it.

“We were here a couple of years ago and it really gives me goosebumps to see the Riley name up here and Dartmouth has been really amazing in keeping the Riley legacy alive up here and just thankful that we had an opportunity to come to this tournament and hopefully we’ll have another chance.”

William Riley, a member of the class of 1946 due to military service during World War II, played the 1943 season as a freshman and then resumed competition for 1946-1949.  Over four varsity seasons, William Riley appeared in 71 games, scoring 118 goals and 110 assists for 218 points.  He was the team leader in all seasons except 1947, ranked fourth all-time for Dartmouth goal scorers and was tied for 12th in total points after just two seasons and went on to represent his country at the Winter Games that year in St. Moritz, Switzerland.

Joe Riley set the record for most goals in a season in his senior year. Playing two varsity seasons, Riley appeared in 47 games and netted 67 goals and 49 assists for the Big Green, ranked fourth all-time for Dartmouth goal scorers and was tied for 12th in total points.

In 1960, Jack Riley coached the U.S. Olympic Team to its first-ever gold medal in Squaw Valley, California, as the Americans defeated Canada, Russia, Czechoslovakia and Sweden.

Jack Riley was a two-time recipient of the Lester Patrick Award, presented annually for outstanding service to hockey in the United States, in 1986 and 2002. He was inducted in the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in 1979 and the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) Hall of Fame in 1998. He died almost two years ago at the age of 95.

He was playing as a Dartmouth sophomore in 1941 when he was called into war service into the U.S. Navy. After returning from the war, he played alongside his brothers and guided Dartmouth to a 16-2-2 record during the 1946-47 season to tie the University of Toronto for the North American title. He joined the coaching staff at Army in 1950, became head coach in 1951 and remained with the Black Knights until his son, Rob, took over the team in 1986. Jack Riley won 542 games for Army and was twice named the NCAA’s coach of the year.

“I wish there was video to see them, but I did see pictures,” Brian Riley said. “My dad had a lot of success as a college coach, but if you wanted to see him have a twinkle in his eye, I tell people it was when he talked about his family, when he talked about serving his country and when he talks about playing up here at Dartmouth and being a coach at West Point.”

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