By: Shannon Costello
Tyler Randell has earned the title of Rangers Tough Guy this season. He is currently leading the team with 151 penalty minutes, including 18 fighting majors. Sticking up for his teammates? Pumping them up when they seem to be fading? Whatever the reason, it works: in 10 of the 16 games Randell has dropped the gloves, Kitchener has gone on to get the win.
The 6’1, 197 pound right winger was drafted by the Belleville Bulls in the first round of the 2007 OHL Priority Selection Draft, but was traded to the Kitchener Rangers in 2008 for overage Brandon Mashinter. While he was drafted to be the future of the Belleville organization, Randell’s trade was to allow him more ice time as he started to develop.
In his first year with Kitchener he played 37 games with 14 goals, 22 points and 39 penalty minutes. In his second year with the team he managed 21 points with 9 goals in 47 games while ranking third on the team in penalty minutes with 88.
Scouted as a grinder because of his physical presence and tendency to stand up for all his teammates, Randell was drafted by the Boston Bruins in the sixth round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. He has attended Bruins’ developmental camps and learned what needs to happen to make it pro: “It takes a lot of hard work to get to the NHL. It’s a lot faster; you need to be a lot stronger. It’s an adjustment that can be made this year.”
So far this season Tyler has scored 20 goals and 10 assists including 6 power play markers. The tough guy does not just pride himself on his physicality, but his abilities in all aspects of the game. “I always finish my checks and drive towards the net,” he says of his play on the ice, “I’m good at tipping in front of the net – but I’ve got a good slap shot too.”
Tyler has been working on keeping consistency in his game by focusing on staying motivated every night. “I know there’s a contract on the line and someone else is always pushing harder. I need to make sure I can keep up and make it where I want to be in the NHL.”
Randell is looking to play the game like his role model, former Boston Bruin and current president of the team: Cam Neely. “He played a rough, scrappy game and could put the puck in the net. He pretty much did everything.” Neely scored over 50 goals in a season three times throughout his career, while still maintaining his physical role as a grinder. As Randell’s offensive statistics continue to improve, he is showing that he too is an all around player who can be relied on in a number of roles on a team.
The Brampton native admits that skating has always been a part of his life, ever since his parents took him on the ice at 18 months old. “I’ve been skating ever since I could walk” he says. And number 11 has been his defining number since he joined his first hockey team at age five.
Naturally, for a player who has been immersed in the sport for so long, Tyler has more than one favourite hockey memory. Among them are winning the Under 17 Tournament in London, being a part of the Belleville Bulls team that made it to the 2008 Memorial Cup Tournament in Kitchener, and even winning the Quebec Pee-Wee Tournament years ago.
Randell has had to deal with a couple of injuries that have affected his ice time during his junior hockey career, but having watched the Spokane Chiefs take the Memorial Cup from the Kitchener Rangers in front of the crowd that now cheers him on – Randell is determined to make this year the year.
It could be his last in the OHL if he can make the adjustments the Bruins are hoping to see, it could be his last year to earn a Memorial Cup, but he will not let it be his last year of hockey. After eighteen years playing the sport, you never give up.