Jon Gillies, one of the top-rated goalies available for next month’s NHL draft, is returning to New England to play Division I college hockey.

On Monday, Gillies, a 6-foot-5 goalie from South Portland, signed a letter of intent to play at Providence College, a member of Hockey East.

Gillies said he made his decision Monday morning before his family flew back to Maine from Indiana after watching him graduate last weekend from Cathedral High School in Indianapolis.

The past two winters he has played junior hockey for the Indiana Ice of the United States Hockey League, leading the league’s goalies with 31 wins this past season.

Gillies, 18, had narrowed his choice between the Friars and the Quebec Remparts of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

“It just came down to playing junior hockey or going to college,” he said. “My family all went to college, and that’s what I wanted to do. I couldn’t wrap my head around not going.”

Gillies said Providence was really the only college in the running.

“It’s an unbelievable school, the coaches are unbelievable, and it’s a great fit,” he said. “I visited Notre Dame, considered Michigan, but the final decision came down to Providence versus Quebec.”

Providence Coach Nate Leaman, who announced Gillies’ commitment to Providence Monday afternoon, was unavailable for comment.

“Taking the (major) junior route is much different than taking the NCAA route,” said Bruce Gillies, Jon’s father. “We’re certainly grateful with the offer that Providence made and the commitment they were willing to make to him.”

Gillies remained in Indiana after graduation to prepare for the upcoming NHL combine in Toronto in advance of next month’s draft.

During a trip last week, Gillies checked the Providence campus and the Remparts’ facilities in Quebec City.

“Both sides we looked at would have been a win-win situation either way,” Bruce Gillies said.

With the graduation of goalie Alex Beaudry, Gillies, the sixth-ranked goalie in the NHL Central Scouting’s final 2012 draft rating, could take over the starting job for the Friars.

“I didn’t really know about the goalie situation there,” Gillies said. “I just went with what Coach Leaman told me and that was that I would have a chance to earn my playing time right away.”

Two years ago, while at Salisbury Prep in Connecticut, Gillies verbally committed to play for Northeastern. Last September, he signed a letter of intent to play for the Huskies.

In March, after starting goalie Chris Rawlings announced his decision to return for one more season, Northeastern Coach Jim Madigan released Gillies from that commitment.

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

Twitter: PaulBetitPPH