Calgary Flames Prospects Help Providence College to the Hockey East Semis

Al DanielCorrespondent IIMarch 18, 2013

PITTSBURGH, PA - JUNE 23:  Jon Gillies, 75th overall pick by the Calgary Flames, poses for a portrait during Day Two of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft at Consol Energy Center on June 23, 2012 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

Jon Gillies made a second chance count in the deciding game of the Hockey East quarterfinals, repelling six unanswered New Hampshire Wildcat shots within the last five minutes to cement a 3-2 victory for Providence College.

The rookie goaltender had briefly allowed the visiting Cats to usurp the lead after his Friars drew first blood, but let nothing else through for the last 29:29 of Sunday’s game action. His team, meanwhile, would trail for a little less than six minutes, drawing a 2-2 knot that would last all of 44 seconds.

Tim Schaller converted a power play amidst another pending penalty call on UNH. That goal, in turn, abolished the remainder of one PC man advantage while yielding another full-length special teams segment.

Gillies’ fellow freshman and fellow Calgary Flames draftee Mark Jankowski played a part in converting that second power play. When defenseman John Gilmour dropped a point shot on goalie Casey DeSmith’s porch, Jankowski joined Paul de Jersey and Nick Saracino in taking hacks at a potential rebound.

As it happened, all three were credited with a point on the play when Saracino raked home the eventual clincher with 2:47 to spare in the second period.

Jankowski, selected by the Flames in last spring’s first round with the 21st overall pick, thus joined Schaller and UNH blueliner Trevor van Riemsdyk in the day’s multi-point club. Earlier, his deflection of Schaller’s forward pass from a similar position in front of DeSmith had opened the day’s scoring with 91 seconds taken off the clock.

Jankowski and Saracino are now tied for the team lead among freshmen with 18 points apiece, although Saracino has dressed for six fewer games.

Per the program’s official postgame press release, Providence is now 5-0-1 when Jankowski tunes the opposing mesh and 10-1-2 when he appears on the scoresheet. The preservation of that trend was heavily owed to Gillies, a third-round Calgary pick at 75th overall in the 2012 NHL entry draft.

In his first post-draft season, Gillies has interspersed his freshman campaign at PC with a ride on Team USA’s drive to gold at the World Junior Championships. Although he took a backseat to John Gibson in that tournament, he has verified his selection to the final roster with his stingy NCAA output.

Through 34 games with the Friars, Gillies boasts a 17-11-6 record coupled with a 2.08 goals-against average, .931 save percentage and five shutouts—a rookie record in program history.

For what it’s worth, PC is winless when Gillies has not scraped its blue paint, going 0-2-1 when Russ Stein is the goalie of record.

In addition, Gillies has played a heavy role in keeping Providence undefeated when leading after two periods. The Friars took a 3-2 lead into Sunday’s second intermission looking to simultaneously improve to 14-0-2 in that situation and stamp their second consecutive passport to the HEA semifinals at Boston’s TD Garden.

They did that in cliff-hanging fashion when the aptly named Wildcats forward Austin Block failed to solve Gillies on two last-minute attempts. The final registered shot of the day came after New Hampshire won a faceoff with six seconds to spare and constituted Gillies’ 30th save of the game.

With that, the Friars also improved to 10-5-3 when Gillies faces at least 30 opposing shots, including a 10-2-3 ride in that scenario since late November.

More to the point, Gillies and Jankowski will join PC in the Hub this weekend for a Friday bout with top-seeded UMass-Lowell.

Should they, along with the three-time defending champion Boston College, advance, Saturday’s title tilt would feature four Flames prospects. Johnny Gaudreau and Bill Arnold constitute two of the BC Eagles’ top-four point-getters.

Beyond that, no more than one or two years with the Friars will likely be necessary before they each delve into Calgary’s farm system.