Bruce Gillies, Jr.
There’s a touch of irony in the Bruce Gillies’ hockey story. In the fall of 1980, he enrolled at the University of New Hampshire thanks to a football scholarship but it was on the ice minding the net for the nationally ranked hockey team where he made his real impact.
As a freshman and a sophomore, Bruce competently played both sports. Then came a knee injury on the football field. That changed everything. While recuperating, he had to live his athletic life for one full season as a hockey-team Red Shirt. It wasn’t comfortable. During that time, his focus shifted and football became just something he used to do. By the time he had healed and was able again to suit up as a goaltender, he was a force. So, too, was UNH for those next two years–which just happened to be UNH’s final year of ECAC competition, followed by the first year of play in the newly created Hockey East.
As with most goaltenders, Bruce began playing hockey as a youngster, starting out as a Mite in the Concord Youth Hockey program, then following the course through the Squirt, Pee Wee and Bantam levels.
When he enrolled as a freshman at Bishop Brady High School in Concord, it was 1976 and he was ready for prime time. During his four years, the team twice went to the State finals — 1979 and 1980, coming up short on both occasions.
At the University of New Hampshire, his two starting seasons had many highlights. He was named an Assistant Captain for the 1983-84 season, and twice was named Bauer Player of the Week. During the 1984-85 season he again suffered another knee injury and after surgery, came back and twice was named Bauer Player of the Week, leading his team to the playoffs.
Bruce still ranks among the leaders in six of the 10 goalie record categories. His single season save record stood for almost 20 years.
Bruce’s collegiate play brought much notice and in the spring of 1985, he signed a three-year NHL contract with the Edmonton Oilers.
As a member of Edmonton’s affiliate, the Muskegon Lumberjacks, he was an pivotal part of the 1985-86 season when the team won the Turner Cup, emblematic of the International Hockey League championship. He finished his Pro career in 1988. For the 1990-91 season, he was an Assistant Coach at New England College, and for the last several years has coached Youth Hockey players in the Portland area. Always a strong skater, Bruce also played for many years in the Capital City Hockey League in Concord as a forward. He still competes but in a No-Check League in the Portland area.
Bruce Gillies, Jr. – Class of 2007
Please welcome Bruce Gillies