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From grinder to ‘superstar’ - Metro US

From grinder to ‘superstar’

Travis Randell’s goal-scoring binge is getting him some good-natured ribbing. Even from his head coach.

“We need superstar in here when you’re done,” joked Halifax Mooseheads bench boss Cam Russell sarcastically, while Randell was being interviewed outside the team’s dressing room at the Metro Centre on Thursday afternoon.

Superstar. It’s not the tag you’d expect for a meat-and-potatoes right-winger known more for his shot-blocking, penalty-killing and checking ability than his offensive panache.

But Randell has been a superstar lately, at least in the relative terms of present-day Moose Country. He has piled up five goals and two assists in his last four games and netted his first career hat trick Oct. 3 against the Val-d’Or Foreurs.

That’s pushed him to the top of the Mooseheads’ scoring list, and if you go back to the end of last season, he has seven goals and 14 assists for 21 points in his past 27 games.

“A year older, a year quicker, a year stronger, I definitely wanted to come in and be a leader,” said the third-year Twillingate, N.L., native. “I wanted to come in and chip in a bit more offensively and pick up where I left off last year.”

Randell has spent many of the past 27 games alongside reigning team MVP Tomas Knotek and emerging 19-year-old Gerrad Grant, and the line has developed strong chemistry.

But if Randell doesn’t score another goal all year, he probably won’t let any of his coaches down.

“He does so many little things well, blocks shots, kills penalties, leads on and off the ice,” said Russell, who once compared Randell to a cross between former Chicago Blackhawks stalwarts Dirk Graham and Brent Sutter. “The offence is just a bonus. But he’s getting it as a result of his hard work.”

Superstar? It’s fair to say that’s a stretch. Randell has no plans to abandon his bread and butter anytime soon.

“Last minutes of games, big-time penalty kills, blocking shots … I kind of feed off of that,” Randell said.

But if the goals keep coming, he’ll take every one.

“They’re not always the prettiest, but they’re going in,” Randell said. “Hopefully, it just carries on.”

O’Connor returns
Former Halifax Mooseheads defenceman Gabriel O’Connor returns to the Metro Centre on Friday at 7 p.m. with the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies. The soon-to-be 19-year-old was dealt at June’s draft for the Huskies’ 15th overall pick, which the Mooseheads used to select forward Brent Andrews.

“It feels weird, getting dressed in the other dressing room,” said O’Connor, after arriving at the Metro Centre via bus yesterday. “I never saw (that room) in three years here. It’s going to be great playing back here in front of these fans.”

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