Jon Gillies wants to turn social media save into goaltending gig with Calgary Fl

There were already a bunch of text messages waiting post-game.

More arrived the next morning.

Calgary Flames crease candidate Jon Gillies temporarily scrapped his social-media apps on his phone to ensure that his focus didn’t wander during training camp, but he must have been able to tell from the reaction of his closest pals that replays of Wednesday’s jaw-dropping, reverse-windmill save against the Vancouver Canucks had quickly gone viral.

“A lot of ‘Are you kidding me?’ and stuff like that,” Gillies relayed. “I’m really good friends with Thatcher Demko, the Canucks goalie, and he called me a sicko a couple of times. That was probably the funniest thing I heard.”

Thing is, he’s already sick of hearing about it.

His behind-the-back snag in the second period of Wednesday’s 5-3 pre-season loss to the Canucks is being billed as an early save-of-the-year frontrunner, but the 23-year-old Gillies is a tad uncomfortable with the buzz that’s followed.

“I get kind of embarrassed with those things,” Gillies admitted after Thursday’s practice. “A lot of teammates have said stuff to me, and I kind of go red in the face and don’t know what to say. I mean, we still lost the game, and I just wish I could have come up with a few more of those for team.

“For me, it’s even tougher to have something like that go on when you lose because I think it kind of masked the most important thing, and that’s that we couldn’t pull out a win and I couldn’t come up with a couple more saves.

“While it was a cool moment, I just look at it as I was doing my job and stopping the puck.”

But, oh, what a stop this was.

‘Are you kidding me?’ is the family-friendly version of what thousands of hockey fans must have muttered when they first witnessed the grand-theft glovery.

“I was just like, ‘Wow, man! That was unbelievable,’ ” said Flames top prospect Tyler Parsons, who split Wednesday’s twine-minding duties with Gillies. “That’s definitely one that you’re going to see all over TV for a while.”

Added Mike Smith, who is slated to be the go-to goalie for the Flames this winter and will start Friday’s exhibition meeting against his longtime employer, the Arizona Coyotes at the Saddledome (7 p.m., Sportsnet 960 The Fan): “I’m a guy that watches most of the highlights every night, and to see a save like that live was pretty unbelievable. And then to see it over and over again on the highlights was even more amazing. It was quite something to see.”

If you missed it, make the internet — — your next stop.

But Gillies, who surrendered four goals on 23 shots in two periods of action against the Canucks, is anxious to put THE SAVE behind him.

He wants a spot on the big-league roster, not just a spot on the best-of shows.

“The communication all summer has been that the opportunity is there and you have to show you’re ready. You have to earn it,” said Gillies, who sparkled in his NHL debut last April but is signed to a two-way contract and is expected to open the 2017-18 campaign with the AHL’s Stockton Heat. “Before the Edmonton game (Monday), I had three very, very good days of practice. And I’m kind of an up-and-down practice performer sometimes, so for me, that was a good step to take.

“I didn’t have a lot of work in the Edmonton game, but I played probably the best I could,” he added, summarizing Monday’s eight-save showing in a half-game against the Oilers split-squad at the Saddledome. “And then (Wednesday), four goals, but I’m my harshest critic, and I thought that the score was a little misleading. Obviously, I want to come up with a couple more saves, but I think that there were a lot of positives.

“It’s like Smitty said — if he was perfect against Edmonton, then what would he work on for the next two weeks? So I’m going to kind of take that and run with it.”


Flames C Sean Monahan was M.I.A. for Thursday’s practice sessions, but head coach Glen Gulutzan characterized it as a maintenance day for the first-line fixture and promised he would be full-go Friday . . . After missing several days to rest a sore hip, LW Matthew Tkachuk skated solo. The snarky Flames sophomore will likely be back in game action for Monday’s pre-season date with the host Winnipeg Jets.

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