Building the Herd – Joe Rand

#?? Joe Rand

Position: Forward

Born: Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

Announced as signed: Bison website 17th May

 

Having made a statement with the British players announced Doug Sheppard has today announced the 2nd import joining the roster is Joe Rand who moves to the mainland having spent last season with the Wightlink Raiders.

Speaking to Banners On The Wall, Rand offered the following:

I am really excited about next year. Coming from Oberliga to ENL was a bit of a dip in quality and this move allows me to get back to a standard I was used to. Nothing against the ENL but I’m more comfortable at the EPL (higher) level where you make the pass and get the pass back. Doug’s looking at more North American style of play which I’m used to. I have a lot of expectations on myself personally this year but we’ll be a hard working team who will go into the corners and do what needs to be done.”

When asked for his comments on his previous club Rand said, “everything about the island I love. It’s a small, brilliant organisation and the fans are very supportive and I’ll miss that and them. Ryde has a special place in my heart but it’s time to move on.”

26 year old Rand played his junior hockey in his home province of Ontario with the Hamilton Red Wings and Vaughan Vipers in the Ontario Provisional Junior A League before being called up to the OHL’s Toronto St. Michael’s Majors in the 2003/04 season. Rand played a season and a half in the OHL scoring 7 goals in 83 games before leaving the league.

Rand went back to school and joined the University of Toronto Varsity Blues for the 2005/06 season and he remained there for 5 years. (It should be noted, this sounds unusual to us but it’s not in North American universities) Rand’s rookie year saw him only tally 7 points in 21 games for the Varsity Blues but had a breakout year in 06/07 where he scored 31 points in 28 games and was named the team’s most improved player. Rand’s improved play earned plaudits and he remained close the point per game threshold throughout his university career. He was named the Varsity Blues best forward for 2008/09 and 2009/10 despite being limited to only 14 games in the later season due to injury. Rand finished his career in Canadian university hockey with 55 goals and 58 assists for 113 points in 118 games for Toronto and 188 penalty minutes.

Having finished university life, Rand signed his first professional contract with Deggendorf Fire in the Oberliga Süd (south), the German 3rd tier. Not being a big financial powerhouse in the league, Deggendorf performed admirably that season, finishing 7th with a .500 record and Rand scored 35 points (20+15) in 43 games as well as 7 points in 5 games in the playoffs as the Fire were knocked out at the best of 5 quarterfinal stage by SC Riessersee in overtime of the final game of the series. It was a story of “what might have been” for Deggendorf as Riessersee went on to win the national Oberliga playoffs and were promoted to the 2. Bundesliga

After his season in Deggendorf, Rand was pulled out of the hat by Wightlink Radiers coach Jeremy Cornish as the team’s final import for the 2011/12 season. Rand was one of the league’s stars and scored 47 goals and 46 assists for 93 points in 36 games. That averages out at 2.58 points a game as Rand was the second top scorer in ENL 1 South behind Invicta import Ryan Ellis. Rand was also named to the ProHockeyNews.com ENL 1 South all star team voted on by coaches, senior players and journalists.

I should be careful what I wish for.

There’s a lot of rumour flying about that the Bison have signed Joe Rand from the Isle of Wight Raiders whereas people would have preferred someone like Darius Pliskauskas, now back at Slough. So I put to you the question; would you prefer Pliskauskas’ fire power and a goalie of a similar standard to the last 3 years or a goalie of Lyle’s quality and someone like Rand who may score 50 points rather than 70? Defence wins championships my friends.” Building the Herd – Stevie Lyle

No I don’t have psychic powers but the Rand signing isn’t exactly out of the blue. It also ups the website British Ice Hockey’s accuracy rate on rumours to somewhere around the 5% range. It had been bubbling as a rumour under the surface since before the end of the ENL season.

Wightlink Raiders coach Jeremy Cornish took some time out to speak to me about Joe:

 

How did you come to sign Joe for the Raiders?

We actually had a Canadian import pull out at the last minute, so I contacted a German agent who set me up with Joe.

 

What sort of game does Joe play and how did he fit into your system for the Raiders?

Joe was by far our best player and he fitted in on and off the ice, he lead our team in scoring and was used in every possible situation. He plays a clean, physical game and he can play the wing or centre. I think you will be getting one of the better all-round imports that the EPL will have this year. Lots of imports at that level are just ‘goal scorers’, but with Joe you are getting a team first guy, that plays well in all situations and never takes a shift off.

 

What can Bison fans expect from Joe as a player and a person?

Joe and I have become pretty good friends and the fans will love him, he is social and very down to earth. I have always said the Bison fans are fantastic and I’m pretty sure he will think the same.

 

Any parting words for Mr Rand?

Thanks for giving the Raiders organisation your full effort while you were with us and I’m really happy I could help you move on. Basingstoke is a fantastic place to play and enjoy your time with the Herd!! Thanks for giving the Raiders a very good year

 

Now you’ve heard from the expert, it’s time for my uneducated opinion;

For those of you who read the blog, I’ve watched the Wightlink Raiders a few times over the last season and the last few years in fact. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, all hockey fans should do that journey at least once for the experience alone. Signing players from the Isle of Wight normally conjurers images of us signing an up and coming British player (hi Matt Colclough, how are you doing?) so for the Bison to sign an import out of the ENL won’t likely sit well with some people.

Rand is, in my lay opinion capable of performing at this level. Whilst I readily accept watching games on the very small ice at Ryde might distort how you can analyse a player’s game, I think the stats for Rand alone in the ENL speak of someone who at least knows where the net is. Rand benefited well by finding a centre who complimented his game in former Bison junior Richard Facey. Playing alongside and feeding Rand the puck allowed Facey to score more assists this season than he did total points the season before.

Rand was the go to guy for a lot of the offensive output for the Raiders, as is expected in a 2 import league. Bar an issue with getting the occasional 10 minute misconduct for disagreeing with the refs (Rand only tallied 77 PIMs last season) Rand was arguably the bright spot in a productive if silverware-less season for Wightlink. I can tell you this, Raiders fans aren’t surprised to see him go but they’re damn sure disappointed.

I can hear some people, Bison fans and others saying that the Rand signing shows that Bison are saving money on imports to pay for the headline Brits they’ve signed. This might be entirely true, sources from the club have claimed the budget is unchanged from last season. I also made the case above that perhaps balancing slightly less big name imports against some of the other signings doesn’t mean the Bison aren’t contenders in the 2012/13 EPL. With that said lets take the following into account as well.

If you take out the year at Wightlink, what is people’s reaction to the Bison signing Rand? EIHL teams have signed players directly from the CIS and an EPL side signing a player from the Oberliga Süd would turn heads. Whilst it’s not going to earn me millions of dollars anywhere, my knowledge of lower league German hockey finally pays dividends on here. Oberliga Süd is of a higher standard than the EPL on the whole so if Sheppard signs Rand off the back of his season in the Oberliga, does it even make a ripple of confusion or concern?

Joe Rand’s a good hockey player and I’m not surprised in the slightest that an EPL has taken a chance on him. I will confess that I didn’t think it would be us but in the new order of things in Bisonland we can’t rule anything out.

Welcome to the Herd, Joe. No more ferries for you but the Leisure Shuttle will be glad of your patronage.

 

Many thanks to Jeremy Cornish and especially Heather Jepson for their help with this piece. Do keep up with all the news on the Wightlink Raiders at www.wightlinkraiders.com or on Twitter @wightlinkraider

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