Bridge­wa­ter na­tive Get­son hun­gry for more

South Shore Breaker - - SPORTS - JA­SON MAL­LOY CHARLOTTETOWN GUARDIAN edi­tor@southshore­

Keith Get­son re­mem­bers his first train­ing camp with the Charlottetown Is­landers like it was yes­ter­day.

The then 16-year-old Bridge­wa­ter na­tive came to Prince Ed­ward Is­land after be­ing a third-round pick in the Que­bec Ma­jor Ju­nior Hockey League draft along with other prospects like first-rounder Mitchell Bal­mas and Sa­muel Guil­bault. Charlottetown had just fin­ished its first sea­son as the re­branded Is­landers and was build­ing around young­sters Daniel Sprong, Alexan­dre Goulet, Kameron Kielly and

David Hen­ley. It added Filip Ch­lapik in the Cana­dian Hockey League im­port draft to go with vet­er­ans Ryan Mack­in­non, Ross John­ston and Oliver Cooper, who were ac­quired in off-sea­son trades.

“I was ex­cited to get un­der­way in my first Q camp and at the same time I was ner­vous as hell be­cause I had no idea . . . what was go­ing to hap­pen,” Get­son said Tues­day night. “I knew Mitchell Bal­mas and Mitch helped me get through a lot.”

Get­son said his first sea­son was about get­ting his feet wet in ma­jor ju­nior and lean­ing on vet­er­ans like Mack­in­non and John­ston as role mod­els and men­tors.

Now, the shoe – or skate, if you will – is on the other foot.

Get­son is a five-year vet­eran of the league who hopes to spread his knowl­edge to the next wave of Isles young­sters like de­fence­man Lukas Cormier, the Isles first-round pick, when camp opens Fri­day with fit­ness train­ing. The team hits the ice for the first time Satur­day at the APM Cen­tre in Corn­wall.

“I don’t want the younger kids to be ner­vous,” Get­son said. “I’d rather them feel com­fort­able and ev­ery­thing right off the bat be­cause when you’re com­fort­able you play a lot bet­ter.”

Get­son made the Is­landers out of train­ing camp in his rookie cam­paign and spent much of the sea­son on a fourth line with Bal­mas and Guil­bault. Get­son quickly earned the trust of head coach Gordie Dwyer with his re­spon­si­ble play and found a role killing penal­ties.

On Oct. 26, 2014, the 16-year-old blocked nu­mer­ous shots, in­clud­ing three on a third­pe­riod penalty kill, to pre­serve a 2-1 win over the Cape Bre­ton Scream­ing Ea­gles. It is still talked about by play­ers, staff and fans who saw it first-hand.

Get­son was noted for his will­ing­ness to learn and de­sire to get bet­ter dur­ing the early part of his ca­reer. It hasn’t stopped.

He could still be seen as one of the first guys on the ice dur­ing last sea­son’s prac­tices. When prac­tices could get stale in the mid­dle of the sea­son, Get­son would be the hard­est-work­ing guy on the ice.

Get­son’s role has grown dur­ing the past four sea­sons and his lead­er­ship has been key to the team’s suc­cess the past two years.

While pleased to have gone deep in the play­offs the past two sea­sons, the team still wasn't able to ac­com­plish its ul­ti­mate goal of lift­ing the Pres­i­dent Cup.

That still stings for Get­son and it has left him with a sense of un­fin­ished busi­ness.

“Com­ing into this sea­son, my only goal is to make it to the fi­nal and even­tu­ally to win a cham­pi­onship for P.E.I. and make it to the Me­mo­rial Cup,” Get­son said. “They came out and sup­ported us like crazy. . . If there was any place that de­serves a cham­pi­onship I think it would be P.E.I.”

The Is­landers sur­prised many peo­ple through­out the league last sea­son. They won’t sneak up on any­one this year and Get­son knows the work ethic that was ap­par­ent last sea­son has to be there and more this year.

“The past two years we only made it to the third round. You can sugar-coat it all you want, but if you lose in the third round, you’re still los­ing,” he added. “If you want to win a cham­pi­onship, you have to win the fourth round. We have to put in even more work than what we have the past two years.”

Get­son will be en­ter­ing the sea­son with­out his line­mate of the past two sea­sons. Pas­cal Aquin fin­ished his ju­nior ca­reer and signed a pro deal with the AHL’S Rochester Amer­i­cans.

“Over the last two years, Pas­cal has been un­be­liev­able. He’s made me bet­ter and I hope I made him bet­ter,” Get­son said.

“I could only dream ba­si­cally what hap­pened to him, hap­pens to me. That’s what I have been dream­ing for my whole life.”

Charlottetown Guardian

Bridge­wa­ter’s Keith Get­son is en­ter­ing his fifth train­ing camp with the Charlottetown Is­landers.

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