Flames goalie prospect thriving with Providence
Gillies will also try out for a spot on the U.S. world junior team
The Providence Friars’ head coach knew to not let it fester. So, before doubt could erode confidence, he took aside netminder Jon Gillies during training camp.
“He was over-thinking things,” Leaman says now. “So I asked him what, when he’s playing well, are the three or four things he’s doing? So for one week, we just focused on him doing those three or four things well. That helped him turn things around.
“I wasn’t worried because I’ve seen so many goalies go through that transition. The key is getting the guys to make sure they keep battling. But it’s not easy. Hard work every day.”
Gillies’ recollection of the early days is no different.
“Coach Leaman brought me into his office (to make that list) . . . that really helped,” says Gillies, who, after two winters with the USHL’s Indiana Ice, had been a third-round pick of the Calgary Flames in June. “By the time the first game rolled around, I felt pretty acclimated.”
Felt acclimated. Looked it, too.
Gillies has been twice named Hockey East’s rookie of the week and twice named Hockey East’s defensive player of the week. He was also the conference rookie of the month for October.
“Usually with freshmen, you see ups and downs,” says Leaman. “But Jon’s been the most consistent player on our team overall. It’s real impressive what he’s done to this point.”
Gillies has started every one of Providence’s 15 dates — including last week’s 3-3 stalemate against hotshot Boston College (and Flames’ prospects Johnny Gaudreau and Bill Arnold) — compiling a 1.95 goals-against average and a .928 save percentage.
Has he impressed even himself?
“ ‘Impressed’ isn’t the word,” replies the six-foot-five, 225-pounder. “I expect a lot out of myself. Always have. The words I’d use to describe it is more ‘confident’ and ‘relieved,’ because . . . as a freshman, could I carry the load? I think I’ve proven to my teammates and myself that I’m able to have their back if a breakdown does happen. So that has been good.”
Not surprisingly, the Americans want to peek at Gillies prior to the world junior tourney in Russia.
Meaning Gillies — and two other netminders, John Gibson (OHL Kitchener) and Garret Sparks (OHL Guelph) — will gather in Tarrytown, N.Y., this weekend with the rest of the U.S. hopefuls. After three days there, the camp shifts to Finland, Dec. 19-23.
“I’m going to be a sponge and soak everything up,” says the 18-year-old native of South Portland, Maine. “Being the younger guy, I fully understand that it’s Gibson’s (job) to lose — he’s definitely earned it. I’m just going to go in there and work as hard as I can . . . and try to gain as much experience as I can and, hopefully, get back there next year.
“This is a two-year process for me — this year and next year. The thing that’s most important to me now is being a good teammate.”
About which the Friars can vouch.
The kid’s two shutouts are the most for a Providence rookie since Chris Terreri bagged a pair in 1982-83.
It had been the Nov. 24 blanking of Brown that provided Gillies with his finest mental keepsake, so far.
“A 7-0 win, but I’d faced 14 shots going into the third period and I ended the game with 35,” he says. “I knew that, with the way we were playing, it was only a matter of time till we increased our 3-0 lead. But 3-1 is a whole different game, 3-2 is a whole different game, so I worked hard that way, and I was really happy I could come up with some saves for my team.”
C-NOTES: C Mark Jankowski, the Flames’ first-round pick, has collected eight points — only two teammates have more. “Mark’s my best friend and he’s doing great,” says Gillies. “I’m really happy to see it because some people weren’t sure about his transition from prep school (in Stanstead, Que.) to college, but I definitely think he’s proved himself.”
Follow Scott Cruickshank on Twitter/CruickshankCH
CALGARY FLAMES’ PROSPECTS REPORT
Here are the drafted goaltending prospects in the Flames’ system:
Goalie Team W-L-T GAA Save Draft selection
Jon Gillies Providence (NCAA) 7-6-2 1.95 .928 75th, 2012
Joni Ortio TPS Turku (SM-liiga) 11-13-5 2.16 .926 171st, 2009
Laurent Brossoit Edmonton (WHL) 12-4-5 2.73 .901 164th, 2011
Leland Irving Abbotsford (AHL) 2-2-1 3.33 .884 26th, 2006
© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald