OHL Roundup: Campbell causes confusion in Windsor crease
By Mackenzie Liddell, Contributing Editor
Toronto, Canada (Sports Network) - Despite boasting a winning 17-11-1-2 record between the pipes and backstopping the defending Memorial Cup champs to fourth place in the West, Jack Campbell has struggled mightily in his first Ontario Hockey League season.
The Dallas Stars' first-round pick (11th overall) in 2010, Campbell came to the Rose City with savior-like hype and even greater expectations.
But the 6-foot-2 Michigan native has struggled with consistency. He ranks 21st of 28 goalies with a 3.85 goals-against average and .884 save percentage.
This past week, Campbell was yanked after allowing three goals on 11 shots against Owen Sound, marking the second time in three games and seventh time this season he has been banished to the bench mid-game.
While immediate expectations were inflated due to a heroic performance against Canada in the gold medal game of the 2010 world juniors, more was expected from a player with Campbell's athletic skill set and big-game experience.
Back-up John Cullen has done a sparkling job in relief since being acquired from the Sarnia Sting, including an 8-0 shutout of his former team Sunday. He gives coach Bob Jones an option when the situation goes south.
But come playoff time, Campbell will be expected to carry the load. What better time for him to step up than when it matters most.
MESSY WEEK IN MISSISSAUGA
It was a forgettable week for the league-leading Mississauga Majors: back-to- back losses for only the second time all season, angry fans littering the ice and a loosening grip atop the Eastern Conference standings.
After opening the week with a come-from-behind, 5-3 win over the dismal Barrie Colts Thursday, the Majors fell into unfamiliar territory with a pair of losses to Plymouth and Ottawa to close out the week.
Dressed in pink jerseys and skating on rose-tinted ice in the annual Paint the Rink Pink game in support of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation Friday night at the Hershey Centre, the Majors fell to the Whalers, 4-3, in bizarre fashion.
With less than two minutes to play and the Whalers holding a 3-2 advantage, the Majors caught a break as the linesmen waved off a clear icing violation, which led to defenseman Michael D'Orazio's tying goal with 1:04 remaining.
Whalers coach Mike Vellucci was then slapped with a bench minor after erupting over the blown call, but Majors defenseman Brett Flemming negated the advantage when he was called for goalie interference with 18 seconds remaining and then forward Rob flick was sent to the box for roughing with four seconds left in the game.
On the ensuing face-off, Plymouth center Rickard Rakell won the draw to Tyler Brown, who hammered a shot past J.P. Anderson to seal the victory.
As the shocked Majors looked on from the bench, Brown celebrated by skating past and fist-bumping the opposing players.
And to top it all off, the usually subdued crowd at the Hershey Centre responded by littering the ice with debris and a chorus of boos - a likely response to some questionable officiating in the waning moments.
To make matters worse - although in the shadow of Friday's fireworks - the Majors were stumped by the Ottawa 67's, 4-2, Sunday afternoon, allowing the Niagara IceDogs to close within four points of the Conference lead.
Yes it's only three games, but in a season in which nothing has gone right the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds celebrate wins at a premium.
With an 8-3 dismantling of the Kitchener Rangers Sunday evening, the Greyhounds closed out the week a perfect 3-0-0.
Although the other two victims were the lowly Sudbury Wolves and Peterborough Petes, the Soo showed resolve in trouncing the high-octane Rangers, receiving a strong performance from sophomore center Nick Cousins, who paced the team with six points on the week.
Although the situation looks bleak at the bottom of the Western Conference, the Greyhounds have a talented core with forwards Cousins and Daniel Catenacci along with budding rookie D-men Ryan Sproul and Gianluca Curcuruto, and 6- foot-3 netminder Matt Murray, who's only 16.
Add in a high draft pick and the tide could turn quickly in Sault Ste. Marie.
There also have been whispers that former head coach and current bench boss of the American League's Rochester Americans Ted Nolan could make his return to the Soo next season.
Congratulations are in order for Brampton coach Stan Butler, who became the fourth coach in OHL history to reach the 1,000-game plateau when the Battalion defeated the Generals, 3-1, Thursday.
He is the only coach in the 12-year history of the Battalion and holds a 461-476-65 career record.
Following last week's blowup over a blowout at the hands of the Erie Otters, Spitfires coach Bob Jones was on the receiving end of a verbal tirade from Otters GM Sherry Bassin, who responded to the coach's criticisms.
"All of a sudden, he's declared war," Bassin told the Erie Times-News. "History will tell you guys that have publicly declared war are usually too old to fight them or too gutless to fight them. They want somebody else fighting their battles."
Fightin' words, indeed. If the hockey Gods are listening (or reading), please let these teams meet in the playoffs and solve this once and for all.
Finally, a shout out goes to the OHL's new leading scorer Ryan Strome, who sits tied atop the leaderboard with 89 points thanks in part to a seven-point week.
The co-leader, Rangers right winger Jason Akeson, notched 10 points on the week, including a five-point performance Friday.
Strome's play is not only vaulting him up the draft rankings (eligible in 2011), it has his IceDogs within striking range of league supremacy.
02/14 15:08:28 ET