January 17, 2013

College Connections: A special new year for Gillies

By Steve Craig scraig@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

It's been a whirlwind start to 2013 for South Portland native Jon Gillies.

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Jon Gillies, a South Portland native, is having a splendid year at Providence College. He’s 9-6-2 with three shutouts – the most by a freshman at the school.

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PC Hockey H&S 2012-2013
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Jon Gillies

The new year started in Ufa, Russia, for Gillies, the primary backup goaltender for Team USA, which won the gold medal at the International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championships.

"It was fun. It was nice because it actually felt like Christmas. Russia does it a little differently," Gillies said. "Their big celebration was from Jan. 1-6. It was a lot of fun and a great experience."

Upon returning, he went back to starring in net for Providence College. On Saturday, Gillies stopped 44 shots, beating Massachusetts 2-0 for his third shutout of the season -- the most by a Providence freshman.

Gillies previously shut out Maine (3-0, 26 saves) and Brown (7-0, 35 saves). No Friar goalie has had four shutouts in a season.

"With the gold medal and obviously getting a sweep my first weekend back, (2013 has) been special so far," Gillies said.

Gillies, who will turn 19 on Tuesday, has played in 17 of Providence's 21 games with a 9-6-2 record, 1.95 goals-against average and .931 save percentage (7-4-1, 2.15, .924 in Hockey East).

Last June, Gillies was the third-round selection of the Calgary Flames (75th overall) after two seasons with the Indianapolis Ice of the USHL. For Gillies, playing in the NHL is a realistic goal.

"He's extremely athletic for his size," Providence Coach Nate Leaman said. "There are a lot of big kids trying to play that position but ultimately you have to be a very good skater and athletic, and the other attribute is he just doesn't get rattled. As a freshman that's extremely rare."

Gillies' father, Bruce Gillies, was the top goalie at New Hampshire in 1983-84 (his single-season save record stood for 19 seasons) and 1984-85. An uncle and grandfather also played in college.

"My dad always said he saw something special in me from a young age," Jon Gillies said.

After a freshman season at North Yarmouth Academy, Gillies spent his sophomore year at the Salisbury School in Connecticut. He completed high school in Indiana.

"After Mites I never really played in Maine," Gillies said. "I've been away a lot. I couldn't have done it without my parents being so supportive, especially my dad."

Picking Providence was another important decision. The opportunity to play right away was critical and it came down to Providence (originally he committed to Northeastern, but was granted a release by Huskies Coach Jim Madigan) or playing for the Quebec Remparts in the QMJHL.

"Being in high school and the USHL left me very little time, if any time, to work out off the ice and I needed to focus on that," Gillies said. "Obviously the college game provides a much better base. And then just having the four years if needed instead of the three, and playing against older and more experienced guys, my family and my advisor felt it would benefit my development in a more positive way."

How long Gillies stays at Providence, "isn't my decision," Gillies said. "The important thing for me is trying to develop myself the best I can and focusing on the present, and whenever Calgary feels I'm ready is when I'll turn pro."

MEN'S HOCKEY

Portland's Nick Broadwater (Deering) continued his stellar play in goal for Hobart College. He earned ECAC West Goalie of the Week after making 34 saves in a 5-0 win at Curry and 28 saves in a 2-1 win at Nichols. It was Broadwater's fourth shutout this season and 11th of his career, both school records for Hobart (13-1-2, 5-0-1 in ECAC West, and ranked 2 or 3 in the national Division III hockey polls). Broadwater leads Division III goalies with a 1.23 goals-against average and .955 save percentage.

(Continued on page 2)

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