Dallas Stars goaltending prospect Jack Campbell picked up a new sport this summer, and he hopes it will help him in the net.
“I learned how to play tennis this summer, and I played a lot,” Campbell said. “It’s my new favorite thing.”
Campbell caught the tennis bug after reading an article about one of the best goaltenders in the game, Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers, who is an avid tennis player.
“It kind of helps my athletic ability. It keeps my reflexes going,” Campbell said. “I saw that article, tried it and loved it. It’s great. It’s kind of like goaltending in that you focus on the next shot and you can’t get too high or too low. It’s funny how they are similar.”
Campbell, who is among the Stars goaltenders at the NHL Prospect Tournament in Traverse City, Michigan, is getting ready to start his second professional season. In 2012-13 he played for the Texas Stars of the AHL, posting a 19-13-3 record, 2.65 goals against average and .905 save percentage.
It was a solid first pro season for Campbell, but Dallas’ first round pick (11th overall) in 2010 wasn’t entirely satisfied. He spent the season as the No. 2 goaltender behind veteran Cristopher Nilstorp.
“I have pretty high expectations and I didn’t meet my expectations. At the same time, I learned a lot and I am growing as a goalie,” Campbell said. “I‘ve gotten a lot better physically on the ice and mentally I know I have taken the next step. Last year was good for me, I learned how to not play for a stretch, which I have not gone through in my career. You’ve got to be ready to go no matter how many games or weeks it has been since you’ve played. There were some highs and lows and I am taking that into this year. I am ready to go. Whatever the team needs me to do I am ready to do.”
The Dallas Stars added veteran Dan Ellis this offseason to backup Kari Lehtonen and they re-signed Nilstorp. So, the 21-year-old Campbell will have to battle for playing time again this season.
“I didn’t grab the bulls by the horn last year and Nilstorp got that starting job. He’s a great goalie. I learned a lot from him on and off the ice,” Campbell said. “This year I get to try that challenge again and I am going to do my best to be the starting goalie down in Austin this year. I am going to do whatever it takes. I am just looking forward to playing some hockey.”
Stars defense prospect Jyrki Jokipakka received favorable reviews from Dallas management after his performance in Thursday night’s 5-2 victory over St. Louis at the NHL Prospect Tournament in Traverse City.
Jokipakka, a seventh round pick in 2011, was paired with Jamie Oleksiak in the game and had no points and a plus-one rating.
“He’s really advanced since we drafted him,” said Dallas assistant GM Les Jackson. “He’s a smart player, good positionally. He understands the game, he keeps it simple and does a lot of good things. He was very impressive last night.”
The 22-year-old Jokipakka, listed at 6-3, 205 pounds, has played in Finland’s top league the past three seasons and is expected to play with the Texas Stars this season. He spent some time with Texas late last season. He didn’t play in a game, but did get a chance to get familiar with the team, the AHL game and the Austin area.
“It’s part of the process,” said Jackson. “It was a good experience. He got to know the coaches and some of his teammates. He played last night like he has been around for a while.”