The Elmira Sugar Kings are set to lose one of the gems in their crown next season. Brady Campbell, the Kings’ right-winger and top scorer, has been drafted to join the University of Maine’s Black Bears. Campbell, age 20, has scored a prestigious hockey scholarship with the Hockey East Conference, a New England division of the NCAA.At a press conference following the Kings’ Sunday night game against the Cambridge Winter Hawks, Kings general manager Paul Jennings was excited about Campbell’s prospects.
“Maine actually puts more players into pro hockey than any other hockey program in the NCAA,” said Jennings. “Sixty players have gone from the Black Bear program to the National Hockey League, so we know that there are some really fantastic opportunities out there for him.”
At the press conference, Campbell was presented with a Maine Black Bears jersey, while head coach Dean DeSilva praised the departing player.
“When you talk to Brady about this, he’ll tell you that a lot of this has to do with his teammates,” said DeSilva. “He passes recognition onto them, because that’s the kind of player that Brady Campbell is. He won’t tell you how hard he worked over the summer to prepare for this year to reach his goals.”
Campbell, who is enrolled in the University of Guelph, will be finishing up his third season with the Sugar Kings, having joined in 2010. Since then, he has racked up 91 goals and 79 assists in regular-season games, and has been ranked by the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League as its Midwestern Conference Player of the Month six times (including twice this season).
This season alone, Campbell has already scored 38 goals and 29 assists, for 67 points in 35 games. He currently ranks fourth on the team’s list of all-time top scorers.
To Campbell, the transition is bittersweet. “It’s different for sure,” said Campbell. “But this is my last year of Junior eligibility anyway, so either way I was going to have to move on after this season, but I’m happy I still get to finish this out in Elmira.”
Cambell’s father, Brad Campbell, finished the press conference with some warm words for the Sugar Kings. “I would have to believe, not knowing what goes on in other Junior B centres, this has to be the envy of the rest of the Junior B league,” he said. “[For] 42 years, this community-run program has continued to put success on the ice.”
“It’s a tremendous honour for both Brady, the entire team, the entire organization and for our league,” added DeSilva. “Because it’s very, very important that others recognize the hard work that these boys put in to show how well our league does develop players for that next level.”
When he joins the Black Bears later this year, the Kings’ most celebrated player already anticipates facing a new array of challenges.
“Playing against bigger guys, that’s for sure,” said Campbell. “And at the next level, everybody will be just that much smarter and that much faster, so it will take some time to adjust.”
But before that, Campbell will finish off his season with the Kings. In recent weeks, he has been off the ice recovering from a broken cheekbone, but following the press conference, DeSilva predicted he will be back in the next few weeks. “The injury came at a tough time for him and for the team, but he’s going to be healthy in a couple of weeks and is going to be back well before the playoffs start,” said DeSilva.