Jon Gillies shows he's not just Most Outstanding Player, he's compassionate, too

Mike Petraglia
April 12, 2015 - 7:35 am
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Jon Gillies really does feel for his buddy Matt O'Connor. The Providence College goalie made that much clear after he and his Friar teammates skated off with a 4-3 win over Boston University in the NCAA championship game Saturday night at TD Garden. Gillies, voted the Most Outstanding Player of the Frozen Four, was not only the counterpart of O'Connor 200 feet away Saturday, he was playing against another goalie he considers a friend. And when a friend drops a puck into his own goal in the third period of a one-goal game with the NCAA title on the line, it's hard not to feel sympathetic. "As a goalie you feel for him," said Gillies, who stopped 49 of 52 shots Saturday night. "I know him personally. He's a wonderful goalie. He had a great year and he was fantastic throughout the tournament to get here." Gillies, 21, played against O'Connor in 2011 and 2012 when Gillies was with the Indiana Ice of the USHL and O'Connor played for the Youngstown Phantoms. Gillies was the third round pick (75 overall) of the Calgary Flames in 2012. The 23-year-old O'Connor is just hoping for a chance somewhere. "I've played against Matt for the two years before I came here in the USHL, and I got to know him personally," Gillies said. "And like I said before, as a goalie you feel for a bounce like that. And you've been there, so you know the bottomless feeling that it presents and just told him how great of a season he had, how great of a tournament he had, how great of a game he had. He made huge stops throughout the entire game." In the handshake line after the game, Gillies knew he couldn't offer his friend much in the way of comfort. "You know that nothing you say right there can help, but just trying to get him lift his head up and realize he played an unbelievable year as a whole," Gillies said. "And from a goaltending standpoint we've all had one of those, and you feel for him and I think that it energized our bench a lot. Got that belief because we were getting some chances, just weren't able to kind of bear down and put them home. And something like that happens, start to take on faith a little bit and start to believe even more." Gillies said there was nothing O'Connor or any goalie could've done to stop the game-winner two minutes later when Brandon Tanev snapped a laser of a wrister past O'Connor. "Tanny had an unbelievable release on that shot. I don't think any goalie is stopping on that," Gillies said. "That was a good goal as well." Friend or not, Gillies had his lead and he wasn't about to give BU a second chance at redemption, despite the best efforts of Jack Eichel and Cason Hohmann, who had a point-blank chance with 50 seconds left to tie it, only to have the puck drift away from him as he tried to direct it past a sprawling Gillies. "You don't do anything different," Gillies said of the closing seconds. "You just know at that point in the game, first off, our wingers and our defensemen and everyone just were absolutely eating pucks and doing a phenomenal job of staying in shot lanes, forcing shots wide and forcing the BU guys to make a play that they didn't necessarily want to make. So it starts there. "And if it does get to me, just kind of play big. And there's a six on five, so there's a lot of traffic in front. You let the puck hit you. If it does squirt out or something at that point in game, you just try to get something in front of it and try and battle for the guys that are battling for you in front."
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