You get the feeling Dallas Stars goalie Jack Campbell is beginning to think this Michigan resort community that hosts the Traverse City Prospects Tournament has it out for him.
In three starts, including two during the 2010 tournament, Campbell is 0-3 with a 5.25 goals-against average and .858 save percentage. Still, traditionally regarded as a goalie who plays well in tight situations, Campbell has been under siege for most of his three appearances in Traverse City.
"I'm a competitor and hate to lose," Campbell told NHL.com. "Obviously, I just try going out there and giving the team the best chance to win and while I wasn't on my 'A' game (in a 6-2 loss to the Rangers), I competed as hard as I possibly could to stop every puck until the final buzzer. Now I hope we can go out today and get a win."
Campbell will earn his next start Wednesday, against an opponent to be determined.
It was a whirlwind 2010-11 season for Campbell, who was selected 11th at the 2010 Entry Draft by the Stars. After training camp he made his Ontario Hockey League debut with the Windsor Spitfires, but he struggled at the start, going 2-5-0 with a 4.86 goals-against average and .853 save percentage. When he left the Spitfires in December for the 2011 World Junior Championship, he had a 12-9-0 mark with a 3.68 GAA and .887 save percentage.
He turned things around at the WJC in Buffalo.
In six games, Campbell topped all goalies with a 1.70 GAA and .941 save percentage and was named the tournament's best goaltender en route to helping lead Team USA to a bronze medal.
"More than anything else, I learned about myself during my time in Windsor," Campbell said. "I just have to go out there and have fun and everything else will take care of itself. When I put too much pressure on myself, like I did last year, that's when things kind of fall out of place a little bit."
Campbell was better when he returned to Windsor following the WJC. He went 12-5-4 in his final 23 games, producing a 3.93 GAA and .881 save percentage, and helped Windsor to a fourth-place finish in the OHL Western Conference. He backstopped postseason series wins against Erie and Saginaw to advance to the conference finals, where they lost in five games to the eventual league champion Owen Sound Attack.
"I think he's bounced around with teams and his first year with Windsor last year was a learning experience for him," Stars General Manager Joe Nieuwendyk told NHL.com. "Probably for the first time in his career he faced a lot of adversity, but those are all good growing lessons. This year, he'll go back to junior knowing he'll be there and really kind of concentrate on being a top goaltender. He's on course to where we need him to be."
Campbell played every minute in the postseason for the Spitfires, and finished the playoffs second in the league with nine wins and two shutouts. He had a 40-save, double-overtime win against Erie in the first round, and a 3.74 GAA and .887 save percentage in 18 games.
"Campbell just works so hard and he goes after every shot," said prospects coach Jeff Pyle, who coaches the Stars' AHL affiliate, the Texas Stars. "He's always got a smile on his face and I know these guys are critical of themselves. In his loss, we didn't play very well in front of him and I felt terrible for him, but as a professional, it's like water off a duck's back. He's going to forget about that and be ready to play the next time. You know he's going to take everything he learns and just build off of that."