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Team USA hopeful Jon Gillies plays hurt, but has time to rest up for world junior

Providence Friars star goalie Jon Gillies (The Associated Press)With the world junior championship only 5½ weeks away, one storyline for reigning champion Team USA is whether it will get goaltending on the level that Anaheim Ducks prospect John Gibson furnished last winter in Ufa, Russia.

It doesn't appear to be a serious situation, but anyone associated with USA Hockey was likely held rapt Saturday when Jon Gillies, the favourite to fill Gibson's goalie skates for the Americans, elected to play hurt during a big Hockey East tilt for the Providence Friars. The 19-year-old Calgary Flames draft choice injured a hamstring on Friday vs. New Hampshire and was unable to play in the third period. Following the Friars' loss and a MRI, Gillies played on Saturday and had a 32-of-34 night in net during a bounce-back win.

Consider that bullet dodged for Team USA.

The No. 1 job is by no means guaranteed for Gillies, who had a "lukewarm showing" during USA Hockey's summer camp. He has a 1.71 average and .946 save percentage over a dozen games for Providence, which indicates that summer performance was just part of the regular ebb and flow in performance.

The college hockey schedule is also going to work out Gillies' benefit. Providence only plays three more games before he would be released for the world junior. In any event, should Gillies open the tourney as he guy in goal for the Americans, then the injury scare will be part of the story. Doesn't hurt to be out front of it.

Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet. Please address any questions, comments or concerns to btnblog@yahoo.ca.

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