Reid Campbell’s second season of pro hockey ended in dramatic fashion last weekend.
The Yukoner and the Mississippi RiverKings were eliminated from the Southern Professional Hockey League playoffs in a double overtime loss at home on Saturday.
“It’s frustrating to lose. I thought we had a pretty good team this year,” said Campbell. “We had a good group of guys and one bounce here or there could have changed the course of the series. It’s hard in a best-of-three – you lose the first one and you’ve got your back up against the wall.
“The season overall was successful. We came a long way and I feel, personally, I developed pretty well.
“I can’t complain. Obviously, losing sucks, but all and all it was a pretty decent season.”
The RiverKings were ousted in the semifinal with a 6-5 double overtime loss to the Pensacola Ice Flyers in the second game in a best-of-three series. They lost 4-1 two days earlier.
The Mississippi team reached the semi after downing the Louisiana Ice Gators in the first round with two straight wins. They sent the Ice Gators packing in a 5-2 win with Campbell tallying a goal in the game.
Campbell, who is originally from Haines Junction but lives in Whitehorse during the off-season, stepped up his offence in the playoffs.
The 27-year-old defenceman registered four goals and 11 assists in 41 games during the regular season. He then notched a goal and two assists in four playoff games.
“I was getting good quality minutes and I feel that’s the player I’ve been my whole career. At the end of the season I start to heat up a bit and come playoffs I’m at the top of my game,” said Campbell. “I scored a pretty nice goal against Louisiana in the first series and picked up a couple helpers in the Pensacola series.”
This season marked Campbell’s second with the RiverKings.
Following a highly successful NCAA career, winning three Division III championships with the St. Norbert College Green Knights in Wisconsin, Campbell had a very short-lived stay on South Dakota’s Rapid City Rush in the Central Hockey League last season. He suffered a bad concussion in his first exhibition game with the team.
Once recovered he was picked up by the RiverKings playing over 40 games before a broken finger that required surgery forced him to miss the end of the season.
At the start of this season Campbell signed with South Carolina Stingrays in the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL) in October but was later released before playing a game for the team.
He ended up, however, seeing some ECHL action this season. In December he was brought up to play for the Greenville Swamp Rabbits and played 15 games.
“I thought I played well. I fit in. It was a good group of guys and the city of Greenville is really nice and I really enjoyed my time there,” said Campbell. “A lot of those guys are on AHL and NHL contracts … Being newer to the league you have to pay your dues. I felt I was playing well, but without a couple guys coming down from the AHL, I maybe could have stuck there for the whole season.”
Campbell is currently uncertain what the future will hold. On Friday he is going in for surgery on his hip to treat bone spurs and a torn labrum – the rim of cartilage that surrounds the hip joint.
Recovery time will be between four and six months, he said.
“So I’m not going to be able to do training like I have in the past. Going into the season next year I’ll just be getting back to where I think I can be 100 per cent. And I think I’ll be a little bit behind, to be honest,” he said.
“This year I was hit into the boards kind of weird and I felt something tweak in my hip flexor area and was nagging the whole year,” added Campbell.
“It’s not an uncommon injury for hockey players … I want to get it taken care of because I wouldn’t mind being able to walk when I’m 40.”
Campbell plans to come home to Yukon after a few weeks of recovery.
His younger brother Evan was captain of the Whitehorse Huskies senior men’s AA hockey club this past season.
Reid was not the only Yukon hockey player at the pro level this season. Whitehorse goalie Ian Perrier played with the Amals Sportklubb in Sweden and was named the team’s MVP at the end of the season.
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