Randolph 2021-22 preview: Rams look to fill holes from early departures

RANDOLPH RAMS

Head coach: Rich McLaughlin, 29th season (460-191-69 career record).

Division: Mennen

Last year: Due to two separate COVID-19 pauses, Randolph played just six games in 2020-21, finishing with a 2-3-1 record. It went 2-2-1 in the Mennen Division, and lost to Morris Knolls-Hills in the Mennen Cup semifinals.

Key losses: Matt Cislo, D; Luke Spagnuolo, F; Joe Yutsus, G; Ben Yurchuk, F (Club); Zach Gallo, F (Club).

Top returners: Jack Rueff, F, Jr.; Nick Gaynor, F, Sr.; Jordan Cross, D, Sr.

Newcomers: Connor Thomas, G, Jr.; Ashton Feinberg, D, So.

Outlook: Randolph has long been one of the pillars of consistency not just in Morris County, but the state during Rich McLaughlin’s 29-year tenure. That was tested big-time in 2020-21, with the team essentially only getting two weeks of game play in. After a COVID pause to start the season, it played four games from Jan. 30-Feb. 6, before having to shut down again. It had just one game against Morristown-Beard on Feb. 27 before the Mennen Cup, where it fell to Morris Knolls-Hills on March 2.

Given the little amount that we saw Randolph last season, it’s really hard to have an idea what this team is going to be with presumably a full season ahead in 2021-22. Factor in the early loss of the team’s top two forwards in Ben Yurchuk and Zach Gallo to club hockey, Randolph will have holes to fill and will have a much younger roster than it is accustomed to.

Senior captain Jordan Cross will be counted on for most of the minutes on defense, which is always Randolph’s strong suit. Sophomore Ashton Feinberg is also expected to step in and contribute on the blue line as well.

Senior Nick Gaynor and junior Jack Rueff are the top two returning forwards that will be counted on heavily this year.

In goal, junior Connor Thomas will take the reigns from last year’s since-graduated starter in Joe Yutsus.

With the amount of holes that Randolph has to fill and a general lack of experience across the board, it may be a very challenging season for the Rams- especially to start. But if there’s anything that we know, it’s that Rich McLaughlin has 460 career wins for a reason. He has a system that works, and he knows how to get the most out of his roster on a yearly basis. There may be some growing pains for this group early on, but as always, expect the Rams to be playing their best hockey come late January/February when the games matter the most.

E-mail Mike Gurnis at michaelgurnis@gmail.com.

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