Luckily, Jack Campbell brought his passport with him to Rockford, Ill., because the Texas Stars goalie is unexpectedly on his way to the Czech Republic.
Campbell was approached by Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman, a member of USA Hockey’s Advisory Group, after Texas’ season came to an end Wednesday in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Rockford IceHogs. Bowman inquired whether the Texas goalie was interested in joining Team USA at the IIHF World Hockey Championships in Prague.
“It was pretty unexpected,” Campbell said in a phone interview before his 10-hour flight Thursday. “(Bowman) grabbed me after the game and asked about it. I had almost forgotten about Worlds. (Losing) was a bitter pill to swallow, but this will be a great opportunity for me to keep playing.”
Campbell will join Team USA before its first game on Friday against Finland; he’s the third goalie on the roster. Connor Hellebucyk from the St. John’s IceCaps and Alex Lyon from Yale are the other goalies.
“I’m not sure what the plan is,” for playing time, Campbell said. “But I’m excited about the trip. It’s a chance to represent your country. Who wouldn’t be excited about that?”
The World Championships have some added buzz. Typically the tournament doesn’t draw big-name stars, since it runs at the same time as the NHL playoffs. But Team Canada recently added Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby to its roster, while Dallas’ Tyler Seguin and Jason Spezza also are on the Canadian roster, which was assembled by Dallas Stars general manager Jim Nill.
The Americans don’t play Canada in the group stage, but they could meet in the knockout round, which starts May 14.
“It’s pretty cool and it’s a great chance to test myself against other NHL players,” Campbell said. “After my second half of the year, I’m ready to keep getting better with this experience.”
Campbell struggled early this season, but turned things around after a two-week stint in the ECHL. In his final 17 starts, including one in the playoffs, he won 11 games and had a pair of shutouts.