Morning Skate: Jack Campbell starting for Texas Stars in return to AHL

CEDAR PARK — Jack Campbell is back with the Texas Stars and he’ll start tonight against the Rockford IceHogs.

“It’s nice, I’m excited to get in there,” Campbell said. “Especially coming off a good win on Wednesday. I’m just trying to help this team win now and that’s my focus.”

Campbell had spent two weeks with Texas’ ECHL affiliate the Idaho Steelheads and started seven straight games. He played very well during that stretch with a .945 save percentage, 1.73 goals against average, and a 5-2 record.

It was a move the organization made to get the 23-year-old goalie playing time after he had struggled in the AHL, and he responded well to the assignment.

“It was nice, first time in a while for me to play that many games in a row,” Campbell said. “Just stringing together some confidence. We got some wins and I’m just trying to carry that back here.”

Campbell attributed his ECHL success to a relaxed approach in the crease. With that in mind, he’s approaching tonight’s game the same way he’d prepare for an ECHL, AHL, or NHL game.

“Exactly, I’m just trying to keep the same mindset I had in Boise,” Campbell said. “Just try to have a little bit of fun.”

While Campbell will focus on his game, the rest of the Stars are preparing for a physical Rockford team that’s currently fifth in the Western Conference with 66 points. With a weekend sweep in regulation, Texas (62 points) could catch the IceHogs and potentially move as high as fourth in the Western Conference standings.

“They’re a team that plays with real high-energy, in-your-face stuff,” Stars coach Derek Laxdal said. “They can grind out a win physically. We have to be ready for the pressure tonight, not only 5-on-5, but 5-on-4 as well.”

Rockford will be a bit shorthanded on the blue line, which has gone from one of the AHL’s best defensive corps to a question mark after Adam Clendening was traded on Jan. 29 and T.J. Brennan — the AHL’s reigning defenseman of the year — was shipped back to Toronto on Thursday.

Brennan was traded for Toronto’s Spencer Abbott. Abbott hadn’t joined the IceHogs yet on Friday and is unlikely to play in either game this weekend for Rockford.

Projected lineup:



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