By Matt Stefano
It’s been a great start to the year 2023 for Soo Thunderbirds newcomer Ranon Joseph.
After recording back-to-back multi-point games in his first two games played with the Soo Thunderbirds last week, Soo Thunderbirds newly signed defenceman Ranon Joseph recorded his third straight multi-point game on Tuesday night with a goal and an assist, as he led the Soo Thunderbirds to a 3-0 victory over the Blind River Beavers at the Blind River Community Centre in Blind River.
The win also extended the Soo Thunderbirds winning streak to 10 games.
“The game was a bit of a mess at the start,” said Joseph, whose team entered Tuesday night’s game one point ahead of the Beavers for second place in the NOJHL’s West Division standings. “I think both teams knew this was a big game tonight for those two points, but tonight I thought we played okay but not really the way we know how.”
Joseph opened the scoring for the Thunderbirds at the 3:43 mark of the first period, with his 2nd goal of the season from Samuel Lake and Ethan Novello, giving the Soo a 1-0 lead through twenty minutes of play.
The Sherwood, Alberta native then recorded his second point of the night with an assist on Jackson Truchan’s power play tally at the 17:26 mark of the second period, which gave the 19-year-old defenceman his third straight multi-point game.
“Getting the first goal early is always a huge advantage because you feel like you take control of the game when the other team is on their heels,” Joseph said. “It’s also easy to get points when your power play is clicking well and I want to help keep our winning streak going.”
Joseph, who recorded his third straight multi-point game on Tuesday night, also became the first Soo Thunderbird defenceman to record three straight multi-point games since Steven Bellini did back in 2017-2018.
“I came to the Thunderbirds having an open mind on what my role was going to be for this team,” Joseph said. “Everyone always wants to be the guy to put up points and I obviously wanted to do that here (With the Thunderbirds), but I just want us to keep winning games and keep getting better day-by-day to push the pace all the time. And if my point-streak continues, it’s just a nice little bonus.”
After being released by the MJHL’s Portage Terriers just 11 games into the 2022-2023 season, Joseph ended up signing with the Soo Thunderbirds as a free agent back on January 2, and made his debut with the Thunderbirds in their first game of the new year back on January 6 against Espanola.
In a total of 11 games played this season with the Terriers, Joseph had 0 goals and 1 assist.
Now as a member of the Soo Thunderbirds, Joseph has already recorded 2 goals and 5 assists in just 3 games played.
Joseph, who now has 7 points in his first three games played with Soo, only recorded 1 goal and 8 points in 38 games played during his first season of junior hockey back in 2021-2022.
“I feel like the biggest change in my game since coming over from Portage is having confidence in what I know I can do,” Joseph said. “When I was at home waiting to come to the Soo, I had some deep conversations with my family about what I want to get out of this year and out of the Soo. I’m very pleased that I’m doing this well so far with the Soo, but I’m gonna keep going and hopefully this success continues. I thank God for all the opportunity I’m getting here (In the Soo) and it’s nice to know that my coaches believe in my abilities as well.”
On Tuesday night in Blind River, the Soo Thunderbirds also welcomed back rookie goaltender Landon Miller, after he spent the whole month of December and the first week of January serving as a backup goalie with the Ontario Hockey League’s Soo Greyhounds, due to the injury of Soo Greyhounds starting goaltender Charlie Schenkel.
And on Tuesday night in his first game back, Miller picked up his second goose-egg of the season, turning aside all 23 shots directed his way.
“It felt good to be back tonight with all the guys and have the performance that I did,” said Miller, who hasn’t seen action with the Thunderbirds since November 23. “It felt even better to come out with another two points and keep this streak going.”
Miller, who recorded a shutout in his first game of the new year on Tuesday night, also became the first Soo Thunderbird goaltender to record a shutout in his first game of a new year since Joel Horodziejczyk did back on January 3, 2014.
“It obviously feels good not letting any goals by you,” said Miller, who just turned 17-years-old back on January 3. “I just stay calm and relaxed while making sure I have a good game.”
Miller, who spent all of December and part of this month serving as a backup goalie with the Soo Greyhounds, also got a chance to play in net with the Hounds during a road game with them in Oshawa back on December 9 and another road game with them in Kitchener back on December 16.
“I had a blast travelling, practicing and just being apart of their team (Soo Greyhounds),” said the 2006-birth-year goaltender. “I definitely learned a lot during my time with them.”
Justin Mauro had the other goal for the Thunderbirds on Tuesday night while Tyler Boudreau, Michael Chaffay and Brock Santa Maria also got on the scoresheet with one assist each.
Mauro’s goal, came at the 4:19 mark of the third period, which at that time made the score 3-0 for the Soo.
Beavers goaltender Gavin Disano gave up 3 goals on 26 shots in the loss.
The Thunderbirds will now be back in action for a rematch against the Beavers on Wednesday (tonight), beginning at 7:00 p.m. at the John Rhodes Rhodes Community Centre in Sault Ste. Marie.
QUIET AT THE DEADLINE
With the January 10 NOJHL trade deadline officially behind us, the Soo Thunderbirds made no moves.
The last move the Soo Thunderbirds made before the January 10 trade deadline, was back on January 2 when they signed free agent defenceman Ranon Joseph.
(Photo of Soo Thunderbirds defenceman Ranon Joseph credit to Bob Davies)