The Tucson Roadrunners tested Jack Campbell in many different ways, including a 3rd Period shot straight to his mask, but that nor any other attempt was enough to beat or rattle him. Campbell made 29 saves to post his second shutout of the year. After watching him tonight, the only question is why doesn’t he have more.
The rest of the Ontario Reign put together a solid 60-minute performance, but they'd be the first to tell you that it was Campbell's show. There is no way to quantify how much his steadiness allows the forward and defensemen to feel confident they are going to win... but it sure feels like it does.
TJ Hensick put the Reign in the lead early in the first on the power play with his 12th of the year. He corralled the puck off a failed clear by Tuscon defenseman Dakota Mermis and streaked to the net to finish impressively on his backhand. After that, the game settled down with both teams trading chances and penalties through the end of the first period.
Early in the second, Hensick used exceptional vision to find Sean Backman in front for a one-timer. Backman did well himself to get open and showed good touch in slipping the puck under goalie Adin Hill. It was nice to see the two veterans rewarded for their solid offensive efforts that they bring every night.
After this goal, the Roadrunners knew that the next one had better be theirs. Despite creating some offensive chances, including a breakaway and shot off the post, they could not sustain anything and the Reign continued to get chances of their own. Campbell was frustratingly unbeatable when the Roadrunners did get to him and they had nothing to show by the time the Reign put in their 3rd and final goal of the game.
It was Mike Amadio on a 2-1, in which/where he smartly selected to shoot instead of passing to a covered Setoguchi. His snapshot was not placed with a sniper's accuracy but it was hard enough on the short side to beat Hill. Amadio now has a three-game point streak, and as the new youngest player on the Reign with Adrian Kempe, continues to make his case for a larger role.
With the result all but assured, the entire Reign lineup was given a chance to show their stuff and help Campbell keep the shutout. By the end of the game they had managed 27 shots for and a shot differential of -2, which was pretty good considering they were defending a lead for almost the entire game.
The big takeaways from this game are similar to the ones from the Reign’s performance in the past month, in which they've gone 8-4-2. They are a solid team top to bottom, with good depth and great minor league goaltending. (It’ll stay that way, since Jeff Zatkoff has cleared waivers and Campbell gets to remain in Ontario.) Like their parent club, they are at their best when they grind away the opposition over the course of a game. They have very few players who would qualify as elite, even among those who are injured or have been called up, but almost everyone is adequately skilled and tough to compete against.
San Diego and San Jose are the two teams that have given them the biggest problem this season, but it’s not hard to see the Reign figuring them out. If they do and if Campbell is in the net — not to mention possible additions to the lineup after the trade deadline and players return from injury — then they are primed for a deep run in the Calder Cup Playoffs.