Oilers, Jets alum Randall relishing junior hockey days with USPHL’s Blaze
Even though he started playing hockey in Wisconsin, Alex Randall saw his game grow exponentially once he moved to San Diego some seven years ago.
This season, Randall is starting his third season with the USPHL’s Decatur Blaze and figures to be one of the team’s top defensemen once again.
“The opportunity to play in Decatur (in 2019) rose when I went to a hockey camp in Denver and I ran into an old Squirt coach (Jim Meyer) that I had when I played for the Kenosha Komets,” Randall said. “He was there scouting for the team then, but I was too young for juniors at the time and ended up staying in touch for when juniors became an option. The thing that appeals to me about Decatur is how much the community is behind the team and how it elevates the experience of playing juniors. The team has always felt like family extending from the players, the coaches, the billets, and the rest of the community.
“The USPHL appears to me as the best Tier III junior league. The games are fast-paced and puts you in a good developmental stage to move forward for the future. It means a lot to me knowing that I may get the opportunity to play college hockey with the exposure provided. My goal is to play high-level college hockey and knowing that playing here can help me with the process is a good feeling.”
Randall started playing hockey at the age of four in Kenosha, Wis. He has been on skates ever since.
“Of course, as a kid, I was a fan of the Mighty Ducks movies and when 2007 came along and the Anaheim Ducks won the Stanley Cup, that really moved me to become more into hockey than what I already was,” said Randall. “Although I did not start up playing hockey in California, California hockey in the NHL definitely helped with my fascination and love for it.”
Growing up in California, Randall played for the SDIA Oilers youth hockey program and the San Diego Jets high school hockey team. Randall and his family moved to Southern California due to his father being transferred there for the U.S. Navy.
“The coaches that stand out for me in San Diego are both Craig Sterling and Brad Belland,” Randall said. “Coach Craig helped me become comfortable with the program after I moved away from Wisconsin. He provided me with great insight for hockey and also helped me gain some lifelong friends that I made through the program. In my high school years, Coach Brad helped me develop a lot by giving me advice and telling me his experiences throughout his amateur and professional careers. Under Coach Brad, I matured as a hockey player and as a human.”
“Being able to play in front of the Blaze fans will be extremely exciting,” said Randall. “Like I said, the whole community is like a family and there really is not much better than being able to represent and play for the city of Decatur.”
Looking ahead, Randall wants to keep hockey in his life as long as possible.
“Short-term goals would include being able to play college hockey while getting a good education,” Randall said. “For the long term, I would like to try and make it as far as I can in hockey. I would also like to try and extend my reach and spread my love for the game of hockey to younger kids trying to get into the sport by telling my experiences and giving them the best advice I have to offer.”
Blaze photos/Shel Long
— Matt Mackinder
(September 22, 2021)