Castlegar’s Shawn Campbell played 200 career Kootenay International Junior Hockey League regular season and playoff games combined with the Rebels and Nelson Leafs over five seasons, finishing with 187 points. Campbell had a brief stint in the Maritime Junior A Hockey League with the St. Stephen County Aces. Campbell, 22, accomplished his dream of playing professionally in Germany when he signed with the Stuttgart Rebels in Germany4 Regionalliga last season, putting up six goals and eight points in seven games before the season was cut short. Campbell then signed with the ERSC Amberg Wild Lions, where he has seven points in 14 games.
“Shawn is a young player who likes to be on the ice and around the rink all the time. He is a fast skater, with a really good shot,” says Wild Lions Assistant Coach Bernhard Keil, who added that Campbell is very personable and someone the team enjoys being around, sharing a laugh. “Sometimes he’s rushed and wants to do too many things on the ice. His overview of the game is already good for his young age and he will certainly improve even more. He has good ambitions to play in a higher league one day. He just has to work consistently on himself, that means on and off the ice.”
The KIJHL connected with Campbell on Zoom to chat about his experience playing and living in Germany. This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
KIJHL: How is Germany treating you?
SC: Oh, it’s awesome here, I love it.
KIJHL: Are you picking up the language or have you already known some German?
SC: I’m picking it up slowly, a couple words at a time.
KIJHL: How do you feel that you’re playing?
SC: To start the season, it was slow, but now it’s starting to pick back up.
KIJHL: Why was it slow for you?
SC: I don’t know, maybe it was a confidence thing, but now it’s certainly going well again. I’m picking my game back up.
KIJHL: Was it just the improvement from making some changes to how you play?
SC: Yeah, the style is a lot different here with the bigger ice surface, different systems.
KIJHL: Are you finding that your defensive game is also getting better.
SC: Yes I do.
KIJHL: What is the German league like to play in?
SC: It’s a very fast pace, a very offensive game.
KIJHL: What has the adjustment been like for you coming from the KJHL?
SC: It’s a faster pace and the big ice is different. It’s a good jump.
KIJHL: Would you say that the time you spent in the KIJHL and the skills that you developed, that helped you make a good transition to that level of pro hockey?
SC: Yeah, definitely. Junior B is a lot more physical so you’re always prepared to get hit and you have to be ready to grab that pass and get hit. Here you can get that pass and you got that extra second because of the bigger surface.
KIJHL: When it comes to making that jump to pro hockey, what kind of message would you give other KIJHL players who may be thinking about wanting to try to play pro in Europe?
SC: You are capable. Just keep working your butt off. It’s a big jump and it’s working hard and believing in yourself, too. If you want it, you can do it.
KIJHL: How has it been adjusting to pro hockey?
SC: Pretty good. I love it. it’s a faster pace and a lot older boys.
KIJHL: What kinds of adjustments have you found that you’ve had to make?
SC: I’m using my speed more, carrying the puck because there’s so much more ice. It’s a lot different.
KIJHL: With the bigger ice surface, do you like having more space to work with?
SC: Yeah, I do because there’s less pressure from the D-man or forwards. You get a little bit of extra time for a heads up and it’s not constant hitting like in the KIJHL.
KIJHL: In what areas do you feel that you’ve already become a better player?
SC: Probably smarts, trying to think a couple steps ahead and knowing where everybody is.
KIJHL: What are the players like? Their talent level like?
SC: Everybody’s pretty skilled. I actually play with two Canadians, who also played in Junior A for West Kelowna and one that played for the Smokies – Ryan Murphy, who played for the Smokies and Brett Mennear.
KIJHL: What kind of chemistry have you developed with those players?
SC: We have a pretty good bond. It’s going well with them.
KIJHL: What are the expectations of you to contribute to your team’s success?
SC: I’m a two-way forward and I’m very good in the defensive zone and I can put the puck in the net sometimes (he smiles).
KIJHL: How has the fit been for you with Amberg because you started your pro career with Stuttgart?
SC: Yeah, Amberg is a great place. It’s very beautiful here, a lot smaller than Stuttgart, but it’s very homey here.
KIJHL: What have you been liking about the fit with the team and even just being in the city?
SC: Everybody’s just nice here. Everybody is very welcoming and the city is a 10-minute walk to the city center. You can walk around and go shopping. It’s just very cool culture-wise, see all the structures and it’s very different from Canada.
KIJHL: What has it been like living in Germany and the cultural change?
SC: I love it. It’s fun to go exploring to see all the different housing styles and castles and all that. You can always take the Autobahn and a half hour away and you are in a new town and go visit there. It’s pretty cool. There are no mountains here though.
KIJHL: How many games in a season do you guys play?
SC: 40 – Friday and Sundays. We practice three times a week.
KIJHL: That obviously gives the opportunity to do what you enjoy doing, just kind of relax.
SC: Yeah. Mondays are exploring days.
KIJHL: What are some of the things that you enjoy most doing in Germany?
SC: Hanging out with new people and meeting new friends. It’s cool, it’s different, especially the German guys, they are fun.
KIJHL: Any favourite German foods that you’ve discovered?
SC: Spätzle (Egg noodles) It’s really good with gravy.
KIJHL: Thanks for taking the time to speak with me.
SC: Thank you.