Games were hard to come by for Jack Campbell early in this 2016-17 campaign.
He began the season with Ontario, starting the team’s first two games, this before being ping-ponged from Ontario to Los Angeles and back again due to injuries to Jonathan Quick and Jeff Zatkoff.
Since his full-fledged return to Ontario after appearing in just one period of relief for the Kings, he’s had the opportunity to make an impact and settle in. Campbell’s now started 13 straight games and Ontario has gone 11-1-1 in that stretch, rattling off six straight wins and as a result has sky-rocketed the Reign into first in the Pacific.
“It’s finally all kind of coming together but with having individual success you need the team to be playing great, so I think that’s a big thing too,” Campbell said on Tuesday. “Our team’s just really rolling right now. We have a lot of confidence. We just have a lot of great guys in the locker room and we’re just feeling good. I think my play is shown because of how great the team’s playing.”
Reign head coach Mike Stothers has commended the netminder for his play and how it’s effected the team as a whole saying this towards the end of 2016: “Given the importance of the position, I would definitely agree that having a proven AHL goalie at your disposal night, after night, is beneficial for the entire team. Not many teams rotate their goalies like they rotate their tires. For far too long we were trying to win Daytona on a spare. Not recommended for long distance driving or a 68-game hockey season.”
Stothers, like he did with AHL Goalie of the Year Peter Budaj a season ago, has had no problem starting Campbell night after night. In his recent 13-game stretch, Campbell has started on back-to-back days a whopping four times.
He’s listed as a top-20 goalie in AHL stats with a 14-3-2 overall record, 2.70 goals against average and .908 save percentage. His 14 wins are tied for the most in the league with three others and he’s still striving for ways to improve.
“I’ve still been really trying to work on my game with [goalie coach] Dusty [Imoo] so, in the beginning of the year as much as anybody could point it at the fact that I was up and down for a while,” said Campbell, who will turn 25 on Monday. “We were still really working on my game and we still are till this day and we won’t stop until Dusty and I are retired or something.”
UPDATE! Here’s a video courtesy of the Reign featuring Campbell and Imoo from Wednesday:
Campbell, on Dusty Imoo’s impact in his day-to-day:
It’s huge to have a full-time goalie coach. I had some great coaches along the way but to have somebody here as knowledgeable as Dusty, on and off the ice, physically and mentally, the things that Dusty brings to my game and just to me as a person, that we can work on every day is just huge. It’s easy to feel like you’re getting better if you see someone once a month but the thing about this game is you really need to work on it every day to really see a difference and that’s what we’re doing. Even with our schedule, with how intense it can get where we don’t practice a ton, just some of the things Dusty and I talk about mentally have just made such a big difference. Just so grateful for that.
On Tuesday, Joey Z and I broke down the team’s recent success, the abundance of injuries and looked ahead to this Saturday’s Outdoor Classic in Bakersfield. You can check it out below: