Building the Herd – Joe Rand

#86 Joe Rand

Position: Forward

Born: Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

Announced as signed: Basingstoke Gazette, 11th June

Joe Rand completes the Bison's import line-up for 2015/16. (c) 5 Hole Photography

Joe Rand completes the Bison’s import line-up for 2015/16.
(c) 5 Hole Photography

Basingstoke Bison head coach Doug Sheppard announced the final name to be part of the Herd’s 2015/16 import contingent by announcing the return of Canadian forward and Banners On The Wall player of the year 2012/13, Joe Rand.

Entering his 4th season with the club after joining from the Wightlink Raiders, Rand’s no nonsense physical style and impressive two-way game has made him a constant thorn in the side of other EPL sides and a fan favourite at the Basingstoke Arena. In 52 league and cup games last season, Rand scored 21 goals and 26 assists for 47 points. His Bison totals for regular season and cup competitions now stand at 161 games played and 153 points with 9 post season appearances yielding 8 points including a penalty shot goal in the 2014 EPL Playoff Final.

The former Toronto St Michael’s Major finished his time in the major junior hockey to join the University of Toronto in 2005. 5 years with the Varsity Blues saw Rand score an impressive 113 points in 118 games as well as spending time as an alternate captain. Turning pro in 2010, Rand headed deep into Bavaria, an hour away from the Czech border to play for Deggendorf Fire of the Oberliga Süd scoring 35 points in 43 appearances and as the Fire finished 7th in the table and gave a brave showing in the playoffs before losing in 7 games to Riesersee who would eventually be promoted to the 2.Liga.

Rand would make his way to Britain for the following campaign; Jeremy Cornish on the Isle of Wight had an import drop out and Rand was picked up to fill the space proving an instant hit with the Raiders fans. Rand finished the season as an all-star and 93 points from 36 games. Rand’s performances got him noticed by newly appointed Bison coach, Doug Sheppard and Rand has been a mainstay with the club since.

2014/15 was an unusual season for the Basingstoke Bison; in his farewell interview, Michael Wales alluded to the fact that some things just didn’t go the Herd’s way. Injuries at key times, bounces not going their way and a few other things that meant the season didn’t finish the way many wanted it to, some things just didn’t come off. In the last Building the Herd about Aaron Connolly, I pointed out that sometimes the new Bison captain worked hard but didn’t work smart; there were times where things just didn’t come off for him and I feel that was the way last season for Joe Rand. If you take the cup out of the equation, Rand had his lowest points total in his EPL tenure and sometimes the bite in front of goal that he’d had at times seemed to abandon him. There were times when he just couldn’t quite make that play in the defensive zone to stop an opposition forward. The bounces weren’t going his way. However don’t get it twisted; you will find fewer people happier that Rand is back than me, nor was Rand the only person who will probably look back and want more than they got out of last season this time around.

Whilst the season wasn’t a points scoring masterclass from Rand, he is still one of the best two-way players in the EPL. Rand is one of the Herd’s most consistent performers and is the sort of player that is always popular with Bison fans across the years; he isn’t flashy, he isn’t showy but will do what he’s told when he’s told to do it, put 100% effort into doing it then skate off, have a rest then go out and do it again.

Nobody sensible is expecting Joe Rand to go out and score 70 points a season and if you are, please report to the “Danny Stewart plays like Darcy Tucker” school of expectation management. Rand clearly has the skills to score points at this level but he’s asked to do more than simply point score by Doug Sheppard. He scores goals by being the guy in front of the net with a tip in getting hacked and wacked by defencemen. How many times, when the Herd were on the back foot, did Rand line someone up and hammer them into the boards in an attempt to get the side and the crowd going?

Whilst last season wasn’t his or the team’s best, the Bison season wasn’t a disaster by any means. Will Rand want to perform better this season? I believe so. In many ways, I could have written the exact same piece for Rand as I did for Aaron Connolly as their seasons mirrored each other in some ways but like Connolly, we know Rand will give 100% effort every shift and in real terms we can’t ask much more of him. The universally happy reaction from Bison fans to his return speaks volumes of just how important the fanbase think he is to the team and the fans of other teams wishing he’d signed for them speaks volumes too. He may never top the scoring charts but many, and it seems Doug Sheppard is included in that number, believe a player like Joe Rand will bring on ice success to your hockey club.

Welcome back, Joe.


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