PITTSBURGH, PA - The only thing bigger than goaltender Jon Gillies at the 2012 NHL Draft was his smile after hearing the Calgary Flames call his name in the third round, 75th overall.
The six-foot-five Indiana Ice goaltender was grinning ear-to-ear walking off the draft floor sporting the Flames jersey.
“It’s awesome,” Gillies said. “Growing up, this is what I always wanted. Going into today I had no idea about who was going to draft me and I’m very honored to be going to Calgary.”
The pick caught the big goalie off guard, at least a little bit.
“I didn’t hear (them say) Indiana,” Gillies said. “I was still looking down at my phone when I heard my name. I looked up and was happy about that.”
Despite playing so far away from Calgary, the Providence College commit is already well schooled in the Flames.
“I know Jarome Iginla will score on me a lot in practice and Miikka Kipruosoff has been there forever,” Gillies said with a laugh.
Gillies added that Kiprusoff is a goalie he’s watched closely growing up.
“I’ve watched him since I was really little,” said Gillies, who had a 2.77 goals against average and .915 save percentage in the United States Hockey League this season. “My dad always thought he was a really good role model for me. I love the way he plays and how he competes. He’s a guy to definitely look up to for sure.”
But before Gillies is able to compete with Kiprusoff for time in the crease, he’ll ply his trade in Providence. It was a difficult decision for the South Portland product, considering he had an offer to study under Patrick Roy and the Quebec Remparts.
“That was tough,” Gillies said. “I visited them back-to-back days. I’d never been to Providence before. It was such a beautiful school and the coaches were great, but then again Quebec where Patrick Roy’s the coach. It didn’t come down to Providence versus Quebec. It came down to the routes.”
The Calgary Flames will hope it’s the route that leads him right to the National Hockey League down the road.
A thought that will only widen the smile of Gillies.