Brad MacKenzie’s first big move as head coach of the Grand Falls Rapids involved a Prince Edward Islander.
Now the Charlottetown native hopes it will set up the organization for years to come.
The Rapids selected 16-year-old Kensington Wild forward Jack Campbell of Souris with the second overall pick in the MHL (Maritime Junior Hockey League) Entry Draft on Saturday.
“We stepped up real early with Jack and the reason we did that was I think there is nobody on that draft list that I think you can build a team around better than a guy like Jack Campbell,” explained MacKenzie, who coached him with Team P.E.I. at the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s Gatorade Challenge this spring. “I say that for a few different reasons.
“Not only because of his skill set on the ice, but I’ve known Jack since he was seven- or eight-years-old. The character and compete that the guy brings, basically he represents everything I believe is important as a coach.”
Not including territorial picks, Campbell is the highest Wild player in the team’s six-year history in Kensington to be selected in the MHL Entry Draft. It is also believed he is the highest P.E.I. player drafted since Nathan Snowie was selected second overall by the Charlottetown Abbies in 2005.
“It’s pretty cool,” said Campbell. “I didn’t expect to go that high. It’s a big honour.”
Campbell, who features a second-to-none work ethic, averaged over a point a game – 29 in 27 regular-season games – in his rookie season in the New Brunswick/P.E.I. Major Midget Hockey League.
“I’m a smaller player, but I like to play physical and I like to make plays,” said Campbell in describing his style. “I’m a play-maker kind of player.”
Campbell had discussions with MacKenzie before the draft and was not surprised to hear the Rapids announce his name.
“They said they wanted to try and pick me if they had a chance to,” said Campbell, who was taken in the sixth round, 99th overall, by Drummondville in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) Entry Draft on June 8.
Charlottetown Pride forward Max Chisholm of Summerside was the second Prince Edward Islander to have his name called by Grand Falls in the fifth round. Chisholm, who had 12 points in 28 regular-season contests, was drafted by the QMJHL’s Charlottetown Islanders in the 14th round, 247th overall, last week.
“Max is another guy I had the opportunity to really get to know and work with at the Gatorade Challenge,” said MacKenzie. “Max is a 200-foot player, great character, competes hard, understands the game and can play both ends.
“He’s a guy who can develop into a pretty good player at the junior level. He will probably be a guy who starts lower in the lineup and works his way up as he gets older. He ticked off a lot of boxes for us in that regard as well.”