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The message resonates years later for Keith Getson.
The Bridgewater, N.S., native had just been drafted by the Charlottetown Islanders in the third round of the 2014 Quebec Major Junior Hockey League draft when general manager Grant Sonier delivered a simple, direct point. It didn’t matter where Getson had been drafted, come to training camp, work hard and something good will happen.
“That’s what I did,” Getson said Wednesday.
It resulted in him making the team as a 16-year-old and being a key cog in teams that went to back-to-back semifinals during his 4 ½ seasons in Charlottetown. He finished his junior career with the Halifax Mooseheads, which made it to the Memorial Cup final before losing to the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies on May 26 in Halifax.
Getson said his message to the youngsters looking to crack Charlottetown’s line-up this year, as training camp begins today in Cornwall, would be similar to Sonier’s advice.
“Go and work hard and good things will happen for you,” he said.
“I remember coming in and I was pretty nervous because Mitch (Balmas) was really the only person I knew, but it was fun, meeting all my new teammates and all the people in the organization. . . It’s an unbelievable organization.”
Islanders’ head coach and general manager Jim Hulton said everybody has a blank slate at training camp.
“We’re going into it with an open mind to see who jumps off the page,” he said, noting that could be with a big hit, scoring a goal or being dynamite in the faceoff circle.
“You look at a Zac Beauregard last year who just jumped off the page with effort and intensity and ended up having a really, really good year.”
Getson’s play earned him an invite to the New York Rangers’ rookie camp in early September.
“I don't have really too many expectations,” Getson said. “It's kind of the same as what I came to Charlottetown with. I’m going to go in and work as hard as I can and see what happens and try and stay as long as possible.”
Hulton said Getson is very deserving of the pro shot.
“He meant so much to our organization and made a real big imprint on that Halifax . . . organization when he went there. (He’s) such a quality person and you love to see good things happen to good people.”
If Getson doesn’t turn pro, he will suit up for the Saint Mary’s (SMU) Huskies of the Atlantic University Sport conference.
“I’m excited for this opportunity too and we’ll see what the next couple of months have in store,” Getson said.
SMU head coach Trevor Stienburg said Getson has been on their radar for a couple of years because of his work on and off the ice.
“He plays the game the right way. He plays well on both sides of the puck. (He) takes great pride in defence and things like faceoffs – all the important things that sometimes that aren’t important to some guys.”
Getson won’t be the only former Islanders in the Huskies’ dressing room.
Balmas, who is attending the St. Louis Blues’ rookie camp, has also committed to the Huskies. He and Getson were friends before being drafted by Charlottetown in 2014 and playing on the same line as 16-year-olds.
“Oddly enough, we’re at SMU together now again,” Getson said. “It’s kind of come full circle.”
Balmas, a Sydney, N.S., native, played 2 ½ seasons in Charlottetown, a year in Gatineau, won the Memorial Cup with Acadie-Bathurst in 2018 and finished his junior career with his hometown Cape Breton Screaming Eagles in the spring.
“Mitchell has been an elite player as well. He’s a little bit more offensive (than Getson),” Stienburg said. “They’re both good kids. . . We couldn’t be any more excited. It would be nice . . . if they could play together.”
Sam King, a Hampton, N.B., native, who played two seasons with the Isles before finishing his junior career in junior A with the Edmundston Blizzard, is also Saint Mary’s-bound.
“He’s just a workhorse,” Stienburg said. “Everybody that’s ever played with him can’t get over what a great teammate he is, how hard he works and how committed he is.”
The Huskies have lost three key forwards with eligibility remaining from last year’s squad. Hunter Garlent signed a one-year contract with the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals, Aaron Berisha, who’s older brother Beni played for the UPEI Panthers, signed in the Austrian league while former Isles’ forward Jake Coughler is going to Slovakia. Former Charlottetown goalie Eric Brassard will be returning.
News and notes:
• The Charlottetown Islanders have their first on-ice session of training camp tonight at 6 p.m. at the APM Centre in Cornwall.
• Intrasquad games take place Saturday at 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. at the APM Centre before the exhibition season begins Sunday in Quispamsis, N.B., against the Saint John Sea Dogs.
• Curtis Fabbro, an 18-year-old forward from Ottawa, has been added to training camp while forward Massimo Gentile and defenceman Luke Vardy – both 2019 draft picks – are not coming.
Vardy, the Islanders third-round pick in June, is heading to St. Andrew’s College in Aurora, Ont., this season but hasn’t made a decision on 2020-21.
“He’s keeping his options open but was very receptive to everything that we’ve discussed with him,” Islanders head coach and general manager Jim Hulton said.
Gentile, who was picked in the 12th round, was going to come for 48 hours to retain his NCAA eligibility but the logistics weren’t working out.
Neither player was anticipated to make this year’s roster.
“We fully expect both guys need a year of development and they’re in very good development situations,” Hulton said.
Both players will remain on the Islanders’ protected list.
• Another player who is not coming to camp is 18-year-old forward Brad Morrissey. The Islanders drafted the Seacow Pond native in the third round of the 2017 draft, knowing he was considering the NCAA route. He has committed to the University of Maine.
The Islanders kept in touch with the family since drafting him, but Brad didn’t have an interest in meeting with the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League squad during the off-season.
“In my opinion, that ship has sailed, so we wish him all the best,” Hulton said.
Morrissey will remain a protected player by the Islanders should he change his mind.
Morrissey had 12 points in 33 games last season for the Tri-City Storm of the United States Hockey League and was traded to the Lincoln Stars.