Chris Rawlings’ decision to return for one more season of hockey at Northeastern led to a change in plans for Jon Gillies, an 18-year-old goaltender from South Portland.

Two years ago, while at Salisbury Prep in Connecticut, Gillies verbally committed to play for the Huskies.

Last September, near the start of his second season with the Indiana Ice in the junior A United States Hockey League, Gillies signed a letter of intent to play for Northeastern.

But earlier this week, after Rawlings decided to return, Northeastern Coach Jim Madigan released Gillies from that commitment, leaving him free to play for another college team.

“In essence there is no sensational story here,” said Bruce Gillies, Jon’s father. “It’s simply (that) their staff and our family were assuming Chris Rawlings would sign and forego his senior year, and the opportunity would be (there) for Jon to compete for the position Rawlings would vacate.”

Madigan said releasing Gillies was the right move.

“Our goaltending situation changed and I thought it was fair to let him explore other options,” he said.

Gillies said Madigan was extremely gracious for allowing his son look at options.

“We respect Northeastern immensely,” Gillies said. “The character and integrity Coach Madigan showed in this situation for his program, Chris Rawlings and Jon Gillies is truly commendable.”

Gillies said the family doesn’t have another school in mind, but the change in his son’s status leaves him with a few options to play and continue to develop.

“Right now Jon’s number one priority is to play with the Indiana Ice, get to the Clark Cup and finish off the year as strong as he can and support his team 100 percent,” Gillies said.

The Ice, who have five games left in the regular season, have clinched a playoff berth and are contending for a first-round bye in the 16-team league.

Gillies said it’s late for his son to start searching for another school.

“As far as any one school, (Jon) obviously has got to feel things out,” Gillies said. “It’s only been two days and there’s already some interest.”

College isn’t the only option available for Gillies, who is projected to be selected in the early rounds of the National Hockey League draft in June.

Gillies could return for another season in the USHL, which claims to produce 35 percent of the nation’s Division I college players.

He also could skip college and play for the Quebec Remparts in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

The team, which is owned and coached by an NHL Hall of Fame goalie, Patrick Roy, selected him last June in the ninth round of that league’s draft.

Last summer, Gillies was the starting goalie for the United States under-18 team in the Ivan Hlinka memorial tournament in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

The squad finished with a 4-1 record.

While appearing in 47 games with the Ice this season, Gillies is 28-10-7 with a 2.73 goals-against average and a .916 saves percentage.

 

Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at: [email protected]

Twitter: PaulBetitPPH