Hockey

Steelheads Goalies are Having a Strong Season

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With half of the season finished already in the OHL, an unexpected result was the Mississauga Steelheads being on the top and five points ahead of any other team in the league. The team doesn’t have a lot of weaknesses. James Hardie, Luke Misa and Owen Beck are just a few of the many forwards who have been dominant in the attacking zone. Captain Ethan Del Mastro and Norwegian prospect Ole Bjorgvik-Holm are physically dominant in the defending zone.

However, one of the most important areas on the ice for hockey is in the goalie’s crease. The Steelheads have two strong goalies that have been keeping their team at the top. It can be argued that Roman Basran and Joe Ranger are currently the best goalie duo in the whole OHL.

If you were watching from the beginning of the season, it did seem like the Steelheads goalie issue would limit the team’s potential this year. In the second game of the season, they lost 7-1 to the North Bay Battalion and that would start the only slump they had during the season. Blaming the goalies for this slump wouldn’t be wise as the team as a whole was having issues with discipline and playing for 60 minutes.

But Ranger was a younger goalie that still hasn’t had the main goalie role and Basran was a pickup from the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets who was entering his last year in major junior hockey. While the pair had potential, on paper, they didn’t look like the strongest duo in the league.

However, after their early-season slump that left the Steelheads fighting for last in the Eastern Conference, the team fixed their ongoing issues and picked up speed. The team picked up a franchise-record 11-point games streak and in those 11 games, only 19 goals were scored.

Both goalies have two shootouts so far in the season with over 10 wins for each of the goalies. Ranger leads the OHL in save percentage at 0.928 and goals-against average at 2.01.

Basran has been having his best season so far as well. Although it’s only halfway through the season and probably won’t play 50 games like he was with the Rockets, he is already halfway to his 22-win season in 2019-20. There is a chance he can get 22 wins this season, but with the uncertainty of certain games being played and Ranger being a solid backup to the point that Basran doesn’t need to play as much, it is unlikely he will.

The issues the duo will face in the upcoming months will be connected around the other top teams in the league. Despite their lead in the standings, there are other teams in the Eastern Conference that are on the same level. The Battalion, although they have been struggling in the last few weeks, is the best team in the league when they are at their peak. Brandon Coe, Matvey Petrov, Mitchell Russel is just three of the offensive strength that the Steelheads will be playing a lot in the latter half of the season.

Another team in the East that will cause some problems is the Kingston Frontenacs. With a few games behind the Steelheads, they are second in the league for points per game. That still doesn’t go into the possible Western teams that the Steelheads may face. If they get into the finals there is the London Knights, Sault Ste. Marie, Windsor Spitfire and more.

The good news is that the Steelheads don’t have to worry about the future beyond this season for goalies. Basran will be moving on by Ranger has proven that he could be a great starter for the team. The only question would be who is next in line for the backup position. That will be known more next season.

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