Push­ing the pace

Cana­dian Alex Camp­bell off to strong start run­ning the point for Is­land Storm Wild hosts fi­nal home game be­fore Christ­mas Satur­day as it gets ready for Que­bec trip

Journal Pioneer - - SPORTS - BY JA­SON MAL­LOY JOUR­NAL PI­O­NEER STAFF

Alex Camp­bell is fill­ing the stat sheet for the Is­land Storm, but what he does that never shows up there might be just as valu­able. The 25-year-old Bramp­ton, Ont., na­tive has been a lock­down de­fender who has helped the squad im­prove its abil­ity to de­fend against pen­e­tra­tion this sea­son. The vo­cal mem­ber of the de­fence said he takes pride in his play when his team doesn’t have the ball.

“Es­pe­cially as the start­ing point guard of the team, I feel like if I can lead with en­ergy ev­ery­one will fol­low suit,” he said. Camp­bell is av­er­ag­ing 12.3 points, 10.3 re­bounds and 4.7 as­sists in the Storm’s first three games of the Na­tional Bas­ket­ball League of Canada reg­u­lar sea­son. The six-foot-three, 200-pound guard’s work on the glass has al­ways been a big com­po­nent of his game, and re­bound­ing guards fit with head coach Tim Ken­drick’s sys­tem.

“When the ball goes up, I hit my man, and at my po­si­tion, I kind of have the size ad­van­tage, so I hit my man and just go for it, wher­ever it is,” Camp­bell said, not­ing it is just a men­tal­ity and de­sire to re­gain or main­tain pos­ses­sion. “Just stay­ing hun­gry for the ball. If the whole team is like that, we’ll lead the league in re­bounds.” And when the squad gets the ball on the de­fen­sive end of the floor, it is look­ing to push the pace and turn boards into easy bas­kets in tran­si­tion with an ath­letic col­lec­tion of play­ers.

“The faster we get the ball, we’re able to run,” Camp­bell said. “With this group of guys, we’re able to get it, who­ever it is, and just go and push (the ball up the floor).”

Ken­drick has been pleased with the early re­turns from Camp­bell. “We couldn’t be any hap­pier with him,” he said. “We knew he was a good de­fender. I didn’t know he was that good of a de­fender.”

Ken­drick’s sys­tem doesn’t rely on spe­cific po­si­tions. He doesn’t num­ber play­ers based on po­si­tions. He wants guys who are ver­sa­tile and can play the game. “Once we get the bas­ket­ball mov­ing, the tra­di­tional point guard spot isn’t as im­por­tant as it might be in some sys­tems,” Ken­drick said. “Once we get into our sys­tems, (Camp­bell) be­comes, I think, even more of a weapon.” Camp­bell, who played univer­sity ball for the Wind­sor Lancers, has been a wing most of his life and is still learn­ing all the facets of run­ning the point. He’s de­scribed by his coach as ea­ger to learn, a good com­mu­ni­ca­tor and team­mate.

“He’s very coach­able,” Ken­drick said. “He re­al­izes he needs to learn things. Not only is he will­ing, but he wants to do what­ever he can to be­come a bet­ter point guard.”

Camp­bell is em­brac­ing the new role and said he is ex­cited to con­tinue to grow in his new squad’s sys­tem. The Storm host the Cape Bre­ton High­landers tonight at 7 p.m. at the Eastlink Cen­tre. The Kens­ing­ton Mon­aghan Farms Wild will play its fi­nal home game be­fore Christ­mas on Satur­day.

The Wild en­ter­tains the Saint John Vi­tos at Credit Union Cen­tre in Kens­ing­ton. Puck drop is sched­uled for 7:30 p.m.

It will be the se­cond of backto-back games for the Wild, who took a 15-2-1 (won-lost-over­time losses) record into Fri­day night’s road game against the Char­lot­te­town Bulk Car­ri­ers Pride (8-9-1). Kens­ing­ton and the Monc­ton Fly­ers (15-1-1) en­ter week­end play tied for first place in the six-team league with 31 points each. The Fly­ers were sched­uled to visit the North­ern Moose (1-21-0) on Fri­day night, and host the Pride on Sun­day at 1:30 p.m.

Fifth meet­ing

Satur­day will mark the fifth time the Vi­tos and Wild have met in reg­u­lar-sea­son play. Kens­ing­ton has won three of the first four games – 6-5 in over­time in Kens­ing­ton on Oct. 13, along with road de­ci­sions of 6-3 on Oct. 19 and 6-2 on the road Nov. 30. The Vi­tos’ de­feated the Wild 6-4 in the sea­sonopen­ing game for both teams in Quis­pam­sis, N.B., on Sept. 14. Wild for­ward Dixon MacLeod has been red hot of late. He took a nine-game point streak into Fri­day’s game, and had recorded 17 points dur­ing that stretch. MacLeod’s line­mate, Colby MacArthur, has also put up some im­pres­sive of­fen­sive num­bers since re­turn­ing to the Wild af­ter start­ing the sea­son with the Summerside D. Alex MacDon­ald Ford West­ern Cap­i­tals of the MHL (Mar­itime Ju­nior Hockey League). MacArthur recorded at least a point in 11 of his first 12 games with Wild, av­er­ag­ing two points a game. The third mem­ber of the Wild’s high-scor­ing line, Ryan Richards, had a nine-game point streak snapped against the Vi­tos on Nov. 30.

Sched­ule change

Due to the Wild, win­ners of the 2018 Monc­to­nian AAA Chal­lenge, par­tic­i­pat­ing in the 2018 CCM Mid­get AAA Chal­lenge tour­na­ment in Chicoutimi, N.B., next week’s home game against North­ern has been resched­uled for Jan­uary.

Af­ter Satur­day’s game, the Wild will not play at home un­til their an­nual Box­ing Day game against Char­lot­te­town at 7:30 p.m. That will be­gin a stretch of eight of the Wild’s fi­nal 13 reg­u­lar-sea­son games at Credit Union Cen­tre.

JA­SON SIMMONDS/JOUR­NAL PI­O­NEER

Colby MacArthur of Summerside went into Fri­day’s ac­tion av­er­ag­ing two points a game for the Kens­ing­ton Mon­aghan Farms Wild of the New Brunswick/P.E.I. Ma­jor Mid­get Hockey League. The Wild hosts the Saint John Vi­tos on Satur­day at 7:30 p.m.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Alex Camp­bell

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