By Matt Stefano
It’s Miller time in net!
The Soo Thunderbirds have announced on Monday that they have signed 2006-birth-year goaltender and Soo Greyhounds prospect Landon Miller.
Miller, who is from Barrie, Ontario, spent the 2021-2022 season with the Vaughan Kings Under-16 AAA team, and was also among 40 OHL prospects to participate in Canada’s National Under-17 Development Camp in Calgary, Alberta back in July.
“I’m super excited to start a new chapter of my career and sign with the Soo Thunderbirds,” Miller said. “I’m looking forward to this experience and I’m hoping to build off the Thunderbirds success from last season.”
This past April, the 6-foot-3 and 176 pound goaltender was selected in the 2nd round (42nd overall) by the Soo Greyhounds in the 2022 Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection, and ended up signing with the Hounds back on July 26.
He also suited up in two games with the Hounds during the 2022 preseason.
“It was an unforgettable experience to be able to play for the Greyhounds in the OHL even though it was just preseason,” Miller said. “It felt great to get my feet wet in the OHL and to understand what it takes to play at that level.”
With the addition of Soo Greyhounds draft pick Landon Miller, the Soo Thunderbirds now have a total of three Ontario Hockey League draft picks on their roster, along with defenceman Austin Fellinger (2021, 11th RD, Soo Greyhounds) and goaltender Kolton Bourret (2021, 15th RD, North Bay Battalion).
“We are extremely excited to welcome Landon and his family to the Thunderbirds, joining a long list of players who have developed here in their 16-year-old seasons,” said Soo Thunderbirds assistant coach and general manager Jamie Henderson. “Landon is an outstanding young man who is one of the top netminder prospects in the province. We are also very thankful for the relationship with Kyle Raftis and the entire Soo Greyhounds staff, and we share the same vision to help their players on and off the ice with their development.”
T-BIRD GRADS IN THE DOGHOUSE
This year, the Ontario Hockey League’s Soo Greyhounds have a total of three former Soo Thunderbirds on their roster, including forward Tyler Savard and defencemen Connor Toms and Andrew Gibson.
Savard, who is in his second season with the Hounds, spent one season with the Soo Thunderbirds back in 2019-2020, where he scored 19 times and set up 31 others in 43 regular season games.
Last month, Savvy also attended Philadelphia Flyers Rookie Camp and Training Camp as a free agent.
Toms, who is also in his second season with the Hounds, played in 21 career games with the Soo Thunderbirds from 2019-2021, where he notched 4 goals and 14 assists.
The Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario native was also the recipient of the Joey Mancuso Award as the Thunderbirds Rookie of the Year for the 2020-2021 season.
Gibson, who is in his first season with the Hounds, spent the 2021-2022 season with the Soo Thunderbirds, where he led all NOJHL defencemen in scoring with 21 goals and 51 points in 40 regular season games.
Gibson’s 21 goals last season, also set the new Soo Thunderbirds record for most goals scored by a T-Bird defenceman in a single season, passing Caleb Boman (2015-2016), who held the previous record with 14.
Gibson, who was also named the NOJHL’s Top Defenceman last season, also helped the Thunderbirds win their 5th Copeland Cup McNamara Trophy (In 2022).
SMITTY IN SPRINGFIELD
After spending four seasons as an associate coach of the Soo Greyhounds from 2018-2022, former Soo Thunderbirds head coach Jordan Smith ended up getting a job this past summer with the American Hockey League’s Springfield Thunderbirds.
This past August, Smitty was named as the new assistant coach of the Springfield Thunderbirds for the 2022-2023 season.
During his coaching years with the Soo Thunderbirds from 2013-2017, Smith led the T-Birds to back-to-back Copeland Cup McNamara Trophies in 2015 & 2016 and one Dudley Hewitt Cup title in 2015.
Smith, a native of Sault Ste. Marie, is also a two-time NOJHL Coach of the Year (2014 & 2015).
This season in Springfield, Smith will be working alongside former Soo Greyhounds bench boss Drew Bannister, who now serves as bench boss of the Springfield Thunderbirds.
CALISTI A CHECKER
Starting this season, former Soo Thunderbirds defenceman Robert Calisti will be playing hockey with the American Hockey League’s Charlotte Checkers, who are the affiliate team of the National Hockey League’s Florida Panthers.
Calisti, who spent four full seasons with the Soo Greyhounds from 2018-2022, played one season with the Soo Thunderbirds back in 2017-2018, where he scored 6 times and set up 14 others in 33 regular season games.
In his graduating season with the Hounds last season, Calisti finished tied for first among all OHL blueliners in goals (21) with his former Hounds teammate Jack Thompson.
Despite not being drafted by an NHL team, Calisti still ended up signing a two-year AHL contract with the Florida Panthers this past March.
(Photo of Landon Miller with former Soo Thunderbird and current Soo Greyhound Andrew Gibson)