• Ryan Gibson

North of the Border: Hernandez Leaves South Florida For Winters of Opportunity

Any questions about the Canadian Junior hockey landscape, or any suggestions of topics you would like to have discussed in future articles, please contact Ryan Gibson at gibsonryan17@gmail.com.

Think of Miami and white sand beaches and blue ocean water immediately come to mind ... not necessarily ice hockey. However, Miami is the home of the Florida Panthers of the NHL and one Randy Hernandez, who is having a breakout year with the Brooks Bandits of the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL).

In his final year of Junior eligibility, Hernandez is currently the second leading scorer in the AJHL and is leading his team in with 33-41-74 numbers. He is currently the highest scoring American in the league, 26 points ahead of teammate Tim Rego. Hernandez will be in the hunt for top overall scorer honor in the AJHL heading into the homestretch of the season, as he is only five points behind leading scorer Arjun Atwal.

Hailing from a southern United States vacation spot, Hernandez has logged a lot of miles during his hockey career.

A standout player for the Florida Alliance organization at the U16 level during the 2015-15 season, Randy caught the attention of the U.S. National Team Development Program (NTDP) and committed to joining the Plymouth, Mich., based entity.

Hernandez struggled during his two years with the NTDP, never being able to find the scoring touch he once had, and being outshone by the likes of current NHLers Quinn Hughes and Brady Tkachuk.

After being drafted in the sixth round of the 2017 United States Hockey League (USHL) entry draft, by the Sioux City Musketeers, Hernandez made the jump to Tier I junior hockey for the 2017-18 campaign. A disappointing season saw him put up just 10 points in 45 games in Sioux City.

The following year Hernandez suited up for the Lincoln Stars of the USHL and after just two assists in 16 games it was announced on November 30, 2018, that he would be joining the Brooks Bandits. In the AJHL he finished the season with 25 points in 29 games as well as adding 7 points in eight playoff contests while helping lead the the Bandits to the AJHL championship, and eventually the national Junior “A” title.

The NCAA took notice his hot start in 2019-20 and Hernandez committed to Robert Morris University back in November.

Brooks will be looking for another league title this year as the perennial powerhouse is currently 10 points ahead in its division. If Hernandez keeps up this current level of production it will be no surprise to see the Bandits make another deep playoff run.

Be sure to check out Hernandez the rest of the way with the Bandits as well as next year when he suits up to play for the Colonials -- his hockey travels don't look like they're going to end anytime soon.

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