Building the Herd – Jon BastonPosted: 01/12/2015
#?? Jon Baston
Born: Helsinki, Finland
Announced as signed: Bison website, 1st December
Following the undisclosed “lower body” injury to Tomas Hiadlovsky during Saturday’s game against Hull Pirates, Bison head coach Doug Sheppard has moved quickly and added former Pirates netminder Jon Baston to the roster as cover for the Slovak.
21 year old Baston who holds both Finnish and British passports played all of his junior hockey in Scandinavia and as such is an import for EPIHL purposes.
Having started his youth hockey career at Jäähonka, Baston played under 16s hockey with EPS and the following season played under 17s and under 20s hockey with OKK in Finland.
In 2010, Baston moved to Sweden where he joined Karlskrona, splitting his time between the club’s under 20s team and the senior team which played in the Swedish third tier. In two seasons with Karlskrona, Baston is credited with 3 division 1 appearances.
For the 2012/13 campaign, Baston moved to Oskarshamn where he mainly played for the club’s J20 Elitserien side with a 4.89 goals against average and a .876 save percentage in 15 games. Baston dressed for Oskarshamn’s Allsvensken side (the Swedish 2nd tier) but did not ice.
After that season, Baston’s senior career began in earnest as he headed to division 1 side Borlänge HF. 2013/14 was a productive year for Baston as he played in 24 games recording a respectable 2.93 GAA and a .899 save percentage. The following campaign didn’t quite go as planned; Baston made only 9 appearances for Borlänge before being loaned to Hedemora in the 4th tier. His numbers in Hedemora were an impressive 1.87 GAA and .929 save percentage in 10 games with 2.19 GAA and .921 save percentage in his 6 playoff outings.
Then came the call from Dominic Osman and Baston headed to Hull to become the Pirates’ first starting netminder. Where the Pirates struggled, Baston quickly won plaudits for his heroic antics between the pipes. In 16 games with the Pirates he had a 4.13 GAA and a .898 save percentage before being released by Hull on 10th November.
This is a really simple one, right? The Bison have an injured netminder so rather than heaping a ton of pressure on an inexperienced backup who did well in relief, they have signed a keeper who can be the legitimate starter till Hiadlovsky is fit and well to resume his role in the net.
Nothing is ever that simple though this is not the biggest of deals either.
I could make tons of jokes about how this is the ultimate death of the “development” tag on the EPL. I could make jokes about the Bison turning into Guildford as they now have 7 imports registered on the roster. I could sit here and say it’s the start of some sort of Toronto Maple Leafs-esque goalie controversy in Basingstoke if I wanted.
The problem is that, in the cold light of day the development label is just linguistic gymnastics being used to circumvent a few pesky rules about the issuing of work permits. The fan in me can’t in good conscience say we’re as bad as Guildford (I’m kidding of course) and ultimately any team with the resources at their disposal in any league in British hockey would do the same thing in this situation to keep up with the pace of the league. We can’t have a goalie controversy till Baston has actually played and we need to take the club at their word for now that this move is purely until Hiadlovsky is fit enough to return.
That said, this is a big chance for Baston to show what he can do. Lauded by fans across the league for his super heroic efforts whilst getting hit with more shots than a bar on the strip in Ibiza, he very much put himself in the shop window. He faced 39 shots a game on average during his time with Hull (as comparison, Janis Auzins averages 34 and Tomas Hiadlovsky averages 26) but still have a save percentage better than last season’s 1st team all star netminder Tom Murdy. It’s clear that the lad can go.
At the risk of another mind numbingly obvious saying, this Bison team isn’t Hull. It’s got a bit more quality and a very different structure to its defensive game. When Hiadlovsky signed, I wondered how the Slovak would count with the reduced shot count that he would face and the same has to be said for Baston. He goes from a team where he faced a lot of rubber to a team that does traditionally give up a lot of shots. The obvious question hangs in the air again; can Baston do as well when he’s not seeing as much rubber.
That’s the problem in some ways with Baston from the analyst’s perspective; we only know so much about him. He’s come from (almost) out of nowhere with minimal fanfare and been playing on a team that has started levelling itself out after a ton of changes to the original roster have been made. Jon Baston is walking into a high pressure situation but one where he has support. He has been given the net at a team that is a legitimate title challenger nearly midway through one of the closest EPL seasons on record. What happens from here on in is up to him, be that sink or swim.
Welcome aboard, Jon.