Keith Getson will finish his major junior hockey career by playing for the Memorial Cup.
The 21-year-old Bridgewater, N.S., native and his Halifax Mooseheads teammates have booked a spot in Sunday’s final.
“You can’t even write a better storyline or script than that,” the former Charlottetown Islanders veteran said Thursday. “That’s what I’ve played for, for the entire five years and to be in that position of being in the finals now is pretty crazy. . .
“It’s pretty much like a storybook ending.”
The Islanders drafted Getson in the third round of the 2014 draft.
He quickly became a fan favourite for his tenacious defensive effort and willingness to lay his body on the line and block shots. As Getson matured, he took on more of an offensive role and became a leader for the franchise.
After back-to-back semifinal appearances, the Isles made the heart-wrenching decision to trade some of their veterans, including Getson, during this season’s trade period.
“Everybody knew it was a kind of a tough decision to leave P.E.I. because I was so close to so many people there,” Getson said. “I came here to win, and we have the chance to do that right now.”
Mooseheads general manager Cam Russell said Getson fills a lot of roles for the Herd. He compared him to the 2013 acquisition of Stephen MacAulay, who helped Halifax win the Memorial Cup in Saskatoon, Sask.
“Keith is such is a class act, such a classy individual and a great leader,” Russell said. “That kind of character is hard to find. In a lot of cases, it’s easier to find a 40-goal scorer than someone that possess that type of leadership.”
Mitchell Balmas broke into the league with Getson as a 16-year-old. The Sydney, N.S., native had known Getson from his days playing against each other and together during spring hockey.
They became even closer during their 2 ½ years in Charlottetown before Balmas was traded to Gatineau. He was then traded to Acadie-Bathurst and helped the Titan win last year’s Memorial Cup.
He reached out to his buddy before this year’s tournament started to wish him well.
“It’s great. No one else deserves it more than he does. He comes to the rink everyday ready to work,” said Balmas, who completed his junior career earlier this spring with his hometown Cape Breton Screaming Eagles. “I’m really excited for him. I just hope he enjoys it and all the best to him for Sunday.”
The Herd punched its ticket to the final with a 2-1 record in the round robin despite losing Wednesday’s finale to the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies. A tournament format is unusual for most major junior players, who haven’t played in them since minor hockey, except for the Memorial Cup or in international play.
“To lose a game yesterday and be happy about it was pretty weird,” Getson said.
But with that in the rearview mirror, Getson is looking ahead to the championship contest.
He played his 400th career major junior game (regular season and playoffs combined) on Wednesday. He has never played in a bigger game than what Sunday will be but will prepare for it like all the games in the past.
He’s looking forward to the atmosphere the game will bring at the Scotiabank Centre, located about an hour from his hometown.
He said the Mooseheads fans have been great during the regular season and the playoffs, but the Memorial Cup is like nothing he has witnessed before.
“The city has kind of stepped up a couple of notches,” he said, noting he can't hear the visiting team’s players be introduced during the pre-game ceremony because fans are chanting, “Go Moose Go”.
“The city is buzzing right now.”
The Huskies play the Guelph Storm today at 8 p.m. in the semifinal with the winner playing the Mooseheads Sunday at 8 p.m.
A look at Keith Getson’s career statistics in the Canadian Hockey League.
Season GP G A Pts.
2014-15 63 1 9 10
2015-16 61 6 6 12
2016-17 61 17 17 34
2017-18 68 20 29 49
2018-19 68 29 27 56
Total 321 73 88 161
2014-15 10 0 1 1
2015-16 12 2 2 4
2016-17 13 3 1 4
2017-18 18 10 4 14
2018-19 23 7 8 15
Total 76 22 16 38
2019 3 0 3 3
400 95 107 202