In more than a few minds, Indiana Ice goaltender Jon Gillies is one of the best puck stopper available for the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.
Gillies allows Indiana Ice to play a free-wheeling brand of hockey this season, as the 18-year-old gave the players and coaching staff the confidence they needed to take chances while on the attack.
The six-foot-five, 215-pound netminder does it frequently, too.
No other USHL goalie played more, as Gillies was between the pipes for 53 games with Indiana, going 31-11-9, with three shutouts, a 2.77 goals against average and an impressive .916 save percentage. He saw more rubber than a dead skunk on the highway, and still managed to backstop the Ice to the second best record in the entire league.
Last season, he posted a 15-6-2 record as a rookie, with 3 goose eggs, a 2.82 GAA, and a .906 save percentage. Gillies was also selected by the Québec Remparts in the 2011 QMJHL draft and represented Team USA at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament last summer.
The South Portland product is a butterfly style goalie that is unbelievably athletic for his size which reminds of Predators Pekka Rinne with his ability to quickly recover when ever he looks to be out of position. He is excellent at evaporating rebounds, tremendous at anticipating the play, never gives up on a puck and competes extremely hard, has a quick glove, and is as calm, composed and confident of a goalie as any at his age.
I had the chance to catch up with the phenomenal Jon Gillies, for a Future Considerations exclusive quick Q and A.
Who has been the biggest help and influence in developing your game so far?
Jon: The biggest influence on my game, so far, would have to be my dad. Goalie coaches come and go, and I’ve had a lot of phenomenal ones, but through anything and everything my dad has always been there for advice and support. I can’t thank him enough.
You are a big guy, and play the butterfly style to perfection, what do you see being your best attributes as a netminder?
Jon: My biggest attributes are probably my feet and my athleticism. I’ve always been able to play a sound positional game due to my foot speed, and my athleticism has allowed me to move almost effortlessly throughout my whole career. But, I feel that I have a little bit of everything else as well, as a goalie I can’t really be good at just a couple things because it takes everything to succeed.
Is there a goalie in the NHL you style your game after?
Jon: I try to take a little bit from every goalie that I watch because they’re all at the level that I’m trying to get to, and they’re all great at different things.
What was your ‘welcome moment’ to the USHL?
Jon: Well, my first game was actually a shutout haha. It was in the USHL Fall Classic against Waterloo, and it was a nice way to start my career to say the least.
*Gillies brushed aside 26 shots, en route to a 5-0 victory over the Black Hawks that night.
What is the highlight of your young career thus far?
Jon: The highlight of my career would have to be playing in the “Q” tournament up in Quebec city. I think we made it all the way to the quarter finals, which no one, including ourselves, expected us to do. It was an amazing experience overall, and the tournament was set up perfectly in the sense that it allowed us to experience the culture of the city as well.
You recently backed out of your commitment to Northeastern as their starter decided to return for his senior year, and I read you were 50/50 on playing Major Junior or NCAA next season, have you made any decisions yet and have any schools touched base with you?
Jon: Well first off, I don’t think “backing out” is the correct term. When their starter decided to stay, coach Madigan called me and offered to release me because the plan that we had set up for a while had drastically changed. It was a mutual agreement that both parties felt was better for my career. Right now I have it pretty much narrowed down to the Quebec Remparts or a couple of colleges. I’ll be making my decision after the season.
You are the top ranked American born goalie for the upcoming NHL Entry Draft (6th overall by NHL Central Scouting), have you felt any added pressure because this is your draft year?
Jon: I haven’t really felt any added pressure, it’s been more of a very fun year. At the end of the day, the rankings and the lists are all irrelevant on draft day, and the whole draft is out of my control, all I can control is playing my best and letting the chips fall where they may.
I know just being selected is a huge honour, but if you could choose the team that selects you come June who would you pick?
Jon: Well, being from the East Coast I would love to go out West somewhere, but I’ll be ecstatic and honoured no matter who picks me.
The Indiana Ice have had another solid season as you guys have a lot of weapons in place there, how do you like the make up of the team and how do you like the clubs chances going forward in these playoffs, especially because you’ve had some success against the top ranked Green Bay Gamblers?
Jon: Win or lose this has been one of the best teams I’ve ever played with. We’ve gone through more adversity off the ice than anyone will ever know, and to finish where we have is remarkable. I like our chances, it’s going to be a great series because they’re a phenomenal team as well.
A lot of goalies are seen as being superstitious, do you have any rituals you go through before or during the course of a game?
Jon: I’ve never been one for superstition. I guess the only routine I really have is that I get dressed from left to right, but other than that I’m pretty loose.
Who, in your opinion, has the hardest shot in the USHL?
Jon: That’s a tough one. I’d have to say Andy Welinski on Green Bay. My goalie partner last year, Casey DeSmith, and I always used to talk about it because it’s just an absolute missile.
Do you have a game that stands out as the best one you’ve ever played?
Jon: I would have to say the Massachusetts State Championship game my U16 year, the year before I came to Indiana. We were playing the Valley Junior Warriors, who had Ryan Fitzgerald, Cam Darcy, and a bunch of other kids who are World-class players. We ended up winning like 6-3, and I ended up with 49 saves or something like that. I seemed to get very lucky all game, but everything kind of just clicked into place that night.