There may not be any Maritime players in this year’s Stanley Cup Final, but there is one Nova Scotian who will be seeing a lot of ice time in the series.
Matt MacPherson of Antigonish has been selected as one of four linesmen who will work the NHL’s Stanley Cup Final series.
It’s one of the toughest jobs in all of sports, and MacPherson is right in the middle of it. The 34-year-old joined the NHL Officials Association in 2011 and has worked nearly 500 regular season games, and more than 30 playoff matches.
“Strengths? One is obviously his size, his ability to skate, his knowledge of the game, coming from being a player, now to an official, and the dedication piece is huge for him,” says Kenny Farrell, an Antigonish based sports reporter.
This year's Stanley Cup Final will see the Washington Capitals battle the Vegas Golden Knights. It’s a first for the expansion Golden Knights franchise, and will also be the first Cup Final series for MacPherson.
"Hockey players have the same dream of making it to the NHL Finals and officials are no different I'm sure. We've talked to Matt and he's just thrilled to be where he's at," says Shaun Smith, a friend of MacPherson's.
In the offseason, MacPherson has given back to his hometown, participating in referee clinics, sharing his knowledge and passion of the game.
"Yeah they'll be hoping to get a glimpse of Matt, sometimes on the face-offs you really get to see up close what he's doing, and I'm sure everyone in the town and county will be very, very much attentive to their TVs during these games," says Arnie Farrell, VP of Operations with Hockey Nova Scotia.
MacPherson's linesman jersey hangs in the rafters at the Antigonish arena, among prominent players who have made it to the NHL from the area.
Brian MacDonald has known MacPherson since they were teenagers.
"We worked side-by-side and then, I'll be watching him on TV in a couple nights, doing one of the biggest games ever. It's pretty surreal really," says MacDonald.
CTV tried to reach out to MacPherson for an interview, but officials are under strict rules not to speak with media until after the playoffs are over.
But there is no question that MacPherson will have plenty of stories to tell when he visits with friends and family this summer in Antigonish.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Dan MacIntosh.