By Griffin Spencer
Defenseman Andrew Campbell recently wrapped up his third season in Manchester. The blueliner appeared in 76 games for the Monarchs this past season, recording one goal and 11 assists for 12 points (1-11=12) while putting up excellent peripheral statistics, including a plus-12 rating. Campbell, who has appeared in at least 72 games each of his last three seasons, is one of only eight defensemen in franchise history to appear in at least 76 games in one season during their tenure in the Queen City.
“I think [my season] went well from a personal standpoint,” said Campbell following exit interviews in late April. “I feel that I improved and got better every day. It was a disappointing ending [in the post-season] for sure. We have a special team in here and to be done after the first round, it doesn’t really seem right especially when we played the way we did in the playoffs. We ran into a pretty hot team [Binghamton Senators] as well.”
Throughout his three seasons in Manchester, Campbell has seen a rise in his ice time, granted to him by Monarchs Head Coach Mark Morris, who feels that he is a valuable resource to have out on the ice at crucial times.
“His steady, reliable play earned him valuable ice time late in games at critical moments against our opponent’s top threats,” said Morris. “Each season, he has gotten stronger and more [confident in] his abilities. He moves the puck smartly and makes good decisions. His reads are excellent.”
“Andrew is an excellent penalty killer and he takes great pride in shutting down opponents,” explained Morris, who went on to state that Campbell might be the “best shot blocker in the American Hockey League.”
Campbell, who would likely lead the AHL in blocked shots if that statistic was tabulated and official, actually broke a bone in his hand during the first game of the 2011 Calder Cup Atlantic Division Semifinal series against the Binghamton Senators.
“I blocked a shot during the second shift of [the first game] against Binghamton when we were shorthanded and broke the bone so I played the rest of the series with it and got surgery on it [in late April] and got three screws put in my thumb,” explained Campbell, who was healthy enough to participate in the Los Angeles Kings Development Camp this past week.
“It’s something I take great pride in,” explained Campbell when describing his shot-blocking aptitude. “It’s one of those things that goes unnoticed but certainly is appreciated by teammates and goalies and people close to the team. It’s something small but it’s something I feel that I can contribute with and it’s also something I take a lot of pride in doing.”
Morris’s praise of his third year defenseman did not end with his tremendous shot blocking capabilities.
“Seldom do players with his qualities get the recognition they rightly deserve,” said Morris about his defenseman that captured the 2011-12 Mark Bavis Unsung Hero award, an honor bestowed upon Campbell by his Monarchs teammates. “Rarely is he out of position. He is popular among his teammates and he leads by example. His solid defensive game is reflected in his plus/minus rating over his time as a Monarchs player.”
“As he gets physically stronger, his skating and foot speed will continue to progress along with his shot. Elements of his overall play, coupled with his outstanding character, make him a valuable player for us,” concluded Morris.
Campbell concurs with his coach about what he needs to work on during this off-season.
“I need to work on my strength going into next season. I need to get stronger, in both my upper and lower body, and work on my skating. Skating at the next level is obviously huge in addition to strength, so those are things I need to work on,” explained Campbell.
Campbell also appears to have his summer plans lined up as well.
“[Golf is] going to be hindered a little bit by this injury I’ve got, but I love to golf and I’ll hang out with friends and relax and have some fun,” concluded Campbell.