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November 23. 2011 10:07PM

Ian Clark's On Hockey: Campbell provides stability for Monarchs

Steady, that's Andrew Campbell.

The 23-year-old Manchester Monarchs defenseman is in his fourth professional season and his steady play night in and night out has been a key on the blue line, where the Monarchs have several young players still learning the game.

Campbell and the Monarchs hosted the Worcester Sharks last night and will host Bridgeport Saturday at 7 p.m. at Verizon Wireless Arena.

“It’s something I focus on. If you want to get to the next level, you’ve got to have that steadiness and can’t have ups and downs,” Campbell said of his play. “You’ve got to be consistent and steady and focused to make those plays.”

Campbell has grown into his role as a dependable presence, someone that can be called on when the game is on the line.

“He’s a smart defensive player. He’s one of the first guys over the boards at key times during the games because of his steady, reliable play,” said Monarchs head coach Mark Morris. “He plays to his strengths, and if you look at his best assets, he’s good positionally and he blocks shots.”

Shot-blocking, especially when done the right way, both technique and timing-wise, is greatly appreciated by the goaltenders.

“There’s not a better guy in the league at blocking shots and who sacrifice their body like he does,” said Monarchs goalie Jeff Zatkoff. “Twenty games in, he’s got so many blocked shots at critical times in games. He’s the kind of guy that if he goes down, you can’t replace.”

Campbell has emerged as a leader as well, wearing an “A” as an assistant captain this season.

“His willingness to put himself secondary to his team automatically makes him and extremely popular guy in the locker room,” Morris said. “Sometimes you don’t have to say a whole lot to show that you’re willing to sacrifice yourself for the good of the team.”

Campbell says he has become more vocal this season.

“I’m not afraid to talk in the room, and I’ve stepped up on the bench, talking more on the bench to keep the guys focused and compliment them when they do something well, which I think is important,” Campbell said. “Also letting them know when they didn’t do something well.”

Campbell won’t ever be confused for Bobby Orr from a scoring perspective, but he’s scored two big goals in recent games to lead the way to Manchester wins. Those are his only two goals on the year, but they were big ones.

“He’s a shutdown D-man. He’s not going to be a guy that puts up 50 points but when he scores a goal it’s exciting,” Zatkoff said. “You can see how much the bench gets up when he scores.”

Campbell has also been steady in another way, playing in more than 70 games in each of his first three seasons. He’s logged 242 AHL games but is still waiting for the call to the NHL and the Los Angeles Kings.

“You take care of the things you can control,” Campbell said. “I try to be steady and consistent and have a good effort every night and the other stuff will take care of itself.”

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Ian Clark covers pro hockey for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. His e-mail address is iclark@unionleader.[JUMP]com.

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