Mahtomedi netminder Josh Campbell’s love for hockey is one that's felt more than it's discussed.
As a child, Campbell went to Minnesota Wild games with his uncle Jeff, who had been a goaltender for Mahtomedi from 1988-1991, before he was in a car accident when he was 21 years old. The car spun out in a cloverleaf interchange and rolled. Jeff hit his head against the window several times, which caused brain trauma and knocked him into a 14-year coma where he never spoke again.
Campbell's parent's move Jeff in with them and the family cared for him for three years until his death in 2007.
“We had a special bond. I’d go to Wild games with him and sit in his lap in his wheelchair. I’d fall asleep and I’d wake up at home laying in his bed. Even though he didn’t talk, I spent a lot of time with him and he’s close to my heart,” Campbell said, wearing his uncle’s retrofitted letterman jacket that has Campbell’s graduation year and letters on the left shoulder.
The Zephyrs sported custom jerseys Saturday afternoon in Hockey Day Minnesota that resembled the Washington Capitals' jersey design, and Campbell was given a freshly pressed No. 1 jersey; the number his uncle worn that nobody else had since his accident.
“Today I was wearing No. 1 to honor my uncle and I still wear his letterman jacket because it’s something to honor him by,” Campbell said.
Campbell paid tribute to his uncle by stopping 15 shots in his first career shutout that gave Mahtomedi in a 3-0 win over Thief River Falls Saturday afternoon at Lowell Park in Stillwater.
“It was very special. To come out and wear his number and get the shutout, I think he’s looking down smiling at us,” Campbell said.
Ranked fifth in the Class 1A coaches’ poll, Mahtomedi (9-7) has played sporadically this season. After beating No. 10-2A St. Thomas Academy 2-1 in overtime on Jan. 14, the Zephyrs failed to score against Tartan just five days later in a 6-0 loss.
Playing outdoors in the 11th annual Hockey Day Minnesota has its added elements too. There was a morning rain prior to the game and with the added publicity, TV timeouts and energy to the event, Mahtomedi coach Jeff Poeschl addressed these factors to his team before the game.
“There’s a lot of distractions; from the outside (conditions) to the scoreboard, everywhere you turn there’s something that can distract you. We just tried to keep it as simple as possible,” he said.
The message to players was simple. Move your feet and throw shots on net.
Fourth-liner Sam Lapadat found paydirt 11 minutes into the game, crashing the net and firing a rebound past Thief River Falls (8-7) goaltender Nick Corneliusen after Nikolai Dulak created a rebound off a wraparound.
The goal was Lapadat’s first of his career.
"The ice conditions obviously weren't at their best, but we fought through it and that's what helped us win the game," Lapadat said. "It's such a great atmosphere. The adrenaline's pumping--it's unreal."
Luke Posner scored in each of the final two periods to put the game away as Mahtomedi’s only player with double digit goals on the season, but after Saturday’s dominant team performance the Zephyrs are aiming to keep the same intensity.
“We had a fire under our butts. We don’t want to go back to where we were before not playing with an edge,” Campbell said.
Mahtomedi enters the final month of the season with a daunting schedule ahead of it where it’ll play No. 1-2A Stillwater, No. 1-1A Hermantown, No. 2-1A Breck, No. 10-2A St. Thomas Academy and No. 6-1A St. Cloud Cathedral, but for now they’re satisfied with a win in their backyard.
“Having all our fans and friends here; It’s home, we’ve all been here. To have this atmosphere and the rain, it was something different and we're proud of what we did,” Campbell said.
Luke Posner found the net twice while Josh Campbell notched his first career shutout in Mahtomedi's 3-0 win over Thief River Falls Saturday afternoon in the opening game of Hockey Day Minnesota at Lowell Park in Stillwater.
Ranked fifth in the Class 1A coaches’ poll, the Zephyrs (9-7) took an early lead after Sam Lapadat’s first varsity goal and never looked back, outshooting the Prowlers 37-12.
Posner buried a goal on the power play with a minute, 48 seconds left in the second period and scored an empty netter with 3.2 seconds left in the game.
Campbell finished the game with 15 saves and Nick Corneliusen stopped 35 shots for Thief River Falls (8-8).
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