EL SEGUNDO – Eight years later, Jack Campbell’s place in junior hockey history is secure.
The Kings’ backup goalie was the winning netminder in a 6-5 overtime win by Team USA in the 2010 World Junior Championships. The win catapulted Campbell up NHL draft boards and set hockey in the United States on an upward trajectory that continues to this day. Saturday, Finland beat the U.S. 3-2 in the gold medal game in Vancouver.
Campbell wasn’t certain he would even play in the game. Mike Lee was the starting goalie for Team USA that day, and “I had confidence he would do a great job,” Campbell said.
Before long, both teams had abandoned their script. The U.S. led Canada 5-3 with 15 minutes left in regulation. Both starting goalies, Lee and Canada’s Jake Allen, had been replaced.
By that point, the U.S. had already exceeded expectations. Canada, the host country, had won the tournament in five consecutive seasons (2005-09). The U.S. had only won once, and medaled five times, in the tournament’s official 33-year history.
When American defenseman John Carlson scored 4 minutes and 21 seconds into overtime of a 5-5 game, the upset was complete. Saskatoon was stunned.
“It was crazy,” Campbell remembered. “(Canada) had won five in a row. They were the most dominant team. They had a great team that year, too. … Beating them was so cool. Just so fun to play against those guys, for one, and to beat them was really cool.
“It’s great to see USA Hockey get on the map and stay there.”
In nine World Junior Championships since, Team USA has won has won twice (2013 and 2017) and medaled six times, including the last four years in a row. Canada has medaled five times in the same span.
“They have caught up for sure,” Kings coach Willie Desjardins said of Team USA. “I think one way to judge too, is the guys that are playing in Europe. … There’s more and more U.S. guys playing overseas now. Look in the draft – how many U.S. guys are getting picked high up in the draft is a good indicator. All those things show that USA hockey is trending in the right way and they’re developing some good players.”
Less than six months after the fateful gold-medal game, the Dallas Stars selected Campbell 11th overall in the 2010 NHL entry draft at Staples Center. He was the first American and the first goalie selected that year.
In a small way, it was the beginning of an era.
“It’s kind of a blur now,” Campbell said of the tournament. “It’s so far away. But it was fun.”
Which way to Springfield
Defenseman Sean Walker was recently chosen to represent the Ontario Reign in the American Hockey League All-Star Game on Jan. 28 in Springfield, Mass.
Being promoted to the Kings might cause Walker to miss the game in another season. This year, however, the NHL will hold its All-Star Game Jan. 26 in San Jose. The corresponding pause in the schedule – the Kings have 11 days off from Jan. 22 to Feb. 1 – means Walker might become the rare player to appear in an AHL All-Star Game while on an NHL roster.
“I want to stay up,” Walker said. “I think the breaks line up perfectly so I might be able to be out there. I’ll be there if I can go.”
Reign forward Sheldon Rempal was also selected to the AHL All-Star Game.
Forward Carl Hagelin was activated from injured reserve prior to Saturday’s game against the Oilers. The game was his first since he sprained his MCL on Nov. 24 against Vancouver. … Dustin Brown passed Luc Robitaille for second on the Kings’ all-time regular season games played list (1,078). Dave Taylor holds the Kings’ franchise record with 1,111. … Forward Jonny Brodzinski (shoulder) took part in the morning skate wearing a red (non-contact) jersey. … Defenseman Alec Martinez (upper body) skated and has been cleared for contact.
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