Brandon Midget AAA Wheat Kings captain Duncan Campbell leads the Manitoba AAA Midget Hockey League in scoring with nine goals and 21 points in 11 games. (BRUCE BUMSTEAD/BRANDON SUN)
As the head coach of the Brandon Midget AAA Wheat Kings, part of Ken Schneider’s role is to prepare his players to move on to higher levels of hockey.
Of course it’s also part of his job to ensure his team is as successful as possible, and with that in mind he was more than happy to welcome Duncan Campbell back for one last season after the 17-year-old forward flirted with a jump to junior.
A solid scorer in his first two midget seasons, Campbell has taken his game to a new level this year after getting an extended look from the Western Hockey League’s Brandon Wheat Kings. The 6-foot-3, 176-pound centre leads the Manitoba AAA Midget Hockey League in scoring with nine goals and 21 points in 11 games, helping the Midget Wheat Kings to a stellar 9-2-0 start.
"He’s made a huge difference to our lineup and he’s come back with the right attitude," Schneider said. "Sometimes when you’re up there (with a WHL team) that long, you can have a bit of a, we call it a WHL hangover, and Dunc didn’t come back with that attitude at all. He’s come back to be a leader here and to work on some of the things that he wants to work on so that he can play there next year."
Campbell joined the WHL’s Wheat Kings after a tryout with the Red Deer Rebels and suited up in a pair of Brandon’s pre-season games. When the Wheat Kings decided to reassign him, Campbell gave some thought to playing Junior A hockey before deciding that rejoining his old midget team was best for him.
"I weighed the pros and cons of going to junior or coming back to midget, and coming back to midget you could finish up school at home, live at home," said Campbell, whose Manitoba Junior Hockey League rights are owned by the Neepawa Natives. "I know what I’m getting into (with the Midget Wheat Kings). It’s a great program. I love the coaches, great guys and I get lots of ice time to develop and improve. And since I spent my time with the (WHL) Wheat Kings I know what I need to do to get better, so I think I can develop that here in midget."
Campbell, who is the captain of the Midget Wheat Kings, said he’s working on his positional play without the puck as well as increasing his focus on off-ice training. He’s also preaching those fundamentals to his teammates to try and give them a push in the right direction.
"That was also part of coming back is I know what it takes to get to the next level and I want to help them get there," he said. "I know what it takes and I want to see them excel, too, in their hockey careers."
Campbell believes it’s that support for each other that is going to help the Wheat Kings be successful on the ice this season.
"You’re a family, really, and I think we’re just growing even more as a group," he said. "It’s going to carry onto the ice and we’re just going to keep getting stronger throughout the year."
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition November 5, 2013