Randazzo Making Most of Second Chances

By: David Schmoll
January 21, 2014

SOUTHAVEN, Miss. -- It always looked like the cards were stacked against Andrew Randazzo in his hockey career.

A seventeen-year-old Randazzo went undrafted in the Canadian Hockey League, arguably the world’s best junior hockey league, and, as a last resort, tried out for the CHL’s Guelph Storm, near his hometown of Hamilton. But as the camp drew to a close, he found himself on the outside looking in.

“I was the last cut from the Storm and had to find somewhere else to go,” Randazzo said. “Dave Barr, the coach in Guelph, called Guy Boucher, the coach in Drummondville, and told him, ‘there’s a defenseman here who’s more offensive and needs to work a bit on his defensive game.’ From there, Coach Boucher called me and asked me to come down.”

Drummondville was the last option for Randazzo as he looked to crack into the Canadian Hockey League. He stuck with the team and in his first season, he helped the Voltigeurs win a QMJHL Championship and headed to the CHL’s Memorial Cup. Not only was playing in the tournament an early-career accomplishment, it also served as a learning tool for the first-year player.

“I saw the work ethic of guys I played with and realized what it took to play 60+ games in a season,” Randazzo reflected. “You learn how to handle the pressure, learn how to rest throughout the season and remain consistent. You have to forget last night’s game and get back on the ice for today’s.”

Not only did the long season prove to test the mental strength of Randazzo, but it also forced him to look at how to continue to improve as a defenseman.

“Coach Boucher always said, ‘you have to take pride in being a defenseman and you have to put guys into the wall’,” said Randazzo. “I worked on my skating, putting guys into the walls and pushing guys out of the net.”

The long hours logged in his first junior season in Drummondville paid off in his second year. Randazzo won the Kevin Lowe Trophy as the best defensive defenseman in the QMJHL, an award also won by NHL All-Star Kris Letang among others.

“It was a great honor to win and was shocked when I found out two weeks before that I was even nominated,” said Randazzo. “I wasn’t worried about winning any awards. I was just looking to work hard day-in and day-out, and was just happy that I received a shot to play.”

After completing three years with the Voltigeurs and aging out of juniors, Randazzo headed back to Ontario to attend the University of Ontario Institute of Technology. While on the school’s team, he earned Freshman Athlete of the Year honors and the Christ Kostka Leadership Award. While Randazzo experienced on-ice success, the shorter college schedule began to push him toward the professional game.

Randazzo left college after his first season and signed with the Central Hockey League’s Allen Americans, but was cut during training camp. In an effort to begin his professional career, Randazzo joined the Mississippi RiverKings days later. With 15 points in 32 games from the blueline in his rookie season, Randazzo proved his could produce at the pro level before an injury abruptly ended his rookie campaign.

“It was a challenging year. I was having success until the injury ended my season,” Randazzo said. “It was tough for me to sit back and watch the guys play knowing I wanted to be on the ice with them.”

Randazzo made a full recovery for the 2013-14 season and picked up right where he left off. His 18 points through the team’s first 28 games rank him fourth overall on the team in that category and fifth in the SPHL amongst defensemen. Looking at what he’s come through to get here, it’s hard to be surprised by that.

About the Mississippi RiverKings
The Mississippi RiverKings are supported by their community partners, season ticket holders, fans, and by program-related investments of the Maddox Foundation, an independent private foundation based in Hernando, Miss. To find out more about the RiverKings, call 662-342-1755 or visit www.riverkings.com

Photo Credit: John Coffin

RiverKings defenseman Andrew Randazzo (pictured) returned to the team this season after an injury-plagued rookie season. He currently leads the team's defensemen in points and is in the top 10 in the league in points amongst blueliners.

Posted by David Schmoll at 9:54 AM

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