Vernon’s Alex Gillies has committed to play for the NCAA’s Michigan Tech Huskies in the fall of 2014-15.
The 5-foot-11, 170-pound winger is known for his upbeat demeanor off the ice and his high-end offensive talent and hockey IQ while on the ice.
Gillies, 17, joined the SilverBacks last season from the Okanagan Rockets Major Midget program where he 35 points in 40 games. As a 16-year-old adjusting to the BCHL, Gillies transitioned quickly into a regular with the SilverBacks and managed to put up 10 goals and 18 points.
Gorillas’ GM Troy Mick says Gillie’s growth as a player is a joy to watch.
“He worked all summer to build muscle and focused in on his goals for the season which were obviously to put up some more numbers and nail down a scholarship,” said Mick.
“There have been a few nights when he’s been the best player on the ice and it’s amazing to think what kind of force he will be in a few years if he stays on this track.”
Gillies, who has been talking to Huskie coaches since last summer, said he was contacted by a handful of schools. Head coach at Michigan Tech is former Vancouver Canuck and BCHL grad Bill Muckalt.
“It’s nice to get the scholarship out of the way, to know I have a school to go to in 2014,” Gillies told The Morning Star. “Now, I can just focus on playing hockey.”
Gillies has been sizzling this season, posting six points in nine games, including a four-point game two weeks ago in a 4-3 victory over Nanaimo.
Added Mick: “Alex has great hands, great vision and a passion for the game. Like the rest of this team, he’s a guy who hates to lose and brings that philosophy to the rink every weekend. We’re ecstatic to see that his hard work has paid off.”
Gillies, who turns 18 in May, gets a regular shift and powerplay time from head coach Scott Robinson, who Gillies loves playing for in Salmon Arm.
“I have a lot more confidence this season. The experience makes a big difference. I’m putting up more points than I was at this time last year.”
Michigan Tech alumni who have made the NHL include the likes of BCHL commissioner John Grisdale, Tony Esposito, Jarkko Ruutu, Andy Sutton, Lou Angotti and Damian Rhodes.