All you have to do is look at Travis Randell’s career plus-minus rating to know how tough times have been for the Halifax Mooseheads the past two seasons.
One of the steadiest defensive forwards in all of junior hockey, Randell holds the dubious distinction of maintaining a franchise-worst minus-67.
That’s what happens when you’re part of the most dismal two-year stretch Moose Country has ever seen, with back-to-back last-place finishes and a staggering 97 losses in 136 games.
“It’s been pretty hard,” said the 19-year-old native of Twillingate, N.L.
“I’m the type of person who hates to lose, no matter what, even if it’s just a board game with a friend. It’s just not the same as winning.”
Randell is the only member of the Mooseheads who can tell you what it’s actually like to win at the Metro Centre. He was a rookie on the 2007-08 squad that earned 42 victories and went three rounds into the playoffs.
The Mooseheads are now younger than ever — with 10 rookies and an average junior age of 17.8 — and nobody will try to convince you they’re going to contend for a championship. They’re still rebuilding, but there’s finally reason for optimism.
Randell, Gabriel Desjardins, Gerrad Grant, Brent Andrews and Carl Gelinas are among the returning forwards who will receive a boost from potential star rookies Luca Ciampini, Martin Frk, Andrew Ryan and Darcy Ashley up front.
Coupled with solid depth at defence, led by Konrad Abeltsahuser and Garrett Clarke, and three QMJHL calibre goaltenders, there is reason to believe making the playoffs is once again a possibility.
“There’s a lot of buzz in the dressing room, especially for those of us who have been here the past couple of years and know what it’s like to have losing seasons,” Randell said.
“It’s not the way you want to be known, as a losing team.