Gillies not taking No. 1 spot for granted
LAKE PLACID, NY -- Jon Gillies knows the potential of what is out there for him in December when it comes to playing for the United States at the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship.
But Gillies, a Calgary Flames prospect, isn't ready to proclaim himself the frontrunner in the race to become the team's No. 1 goaltender for the tournament, which will be held in Malmo, Sweden.
Gillies got a head start a year ago, when he used a strong performance at the 2012 USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp as a springboard to earning the backup job to John Gibson at the 2013 WJC.
While he played just one period in one game in the preliminary round, having gone through the experience of winning the gold medal the WJC in Sochi, Russia, is one he's been using as the foundation for his play at this junior evaluation camp.
Gillies said being around Gibson on a daily basis for two weeks in Russia was very beneficial to him.
"I learned a bunch," Gillies told NHL.com. "He's obviously the best goalie his age hands-down, and he proved that every game at that tournament. Off the ice, just taking his demeanor, how he prepares for games. And on the ice, nothing fazes him. Nothing can get to him. You can't get to him if you try. He's a big-time goalie and a big-game goalie and he proved both of those things."
He's been trying to prove he can be a big-time and big-game goalie here this week. Through the first three games of camp, Gillies is 0-1 with a 3.99 goals-against average and .885 save percentage. While those numbers might not jump off the page, he is coming off a freshman season at Providence College that saw him post a 2.08 GAA and .931 save percentage in 35 games and earn the Hockey East Rookie of the Year award.
That's why United States coach Don Lucia has indicated Gillies has a bit of an edge on the other two goaltenders currently in camp -- Anthony Stolarz, a Philadelphia Flyers prospect, and Thatcher Demko, a top prospect for the 2014 NHL Draft.
"His track record is good and that's important for a goaltender," United States coach Don Lucia said. "He had a very good career in the USHL, had a great year at Providence. He did a nice job as the backup last year at the world juniors. He had an opportunity to play in a game and played very well his one period. He got to experience it all and go through it and see what that tournament is all about. That's certainly valuable coming in as a second year player. He's somebody we're looking at and counting on."
However, Gillies isn't buying into the notion that the job is his to lose.
"I don't look at it like that. Although I was on the [WJC] team last year, Collin Olsen [cut from camp] and Thatcher Demko both have been through the World Under-18 Championship while I only played a period [in the WJC]. I'm just coming in here and working as hard as I can and trying to earn that spot."
Author: Adam Kimelman | NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor