SASKATOON — Small world, that hockey universe.
On April 5, 2008, Mick McGeough worked his last of 1,083 regular-season games as a National Hockey League referee.
His farewell to the big leagues took place during a game between the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks. Anaheim won 4-3, thanks to a tie-breaking goal by Teemu Selanne at 6:28 of the third period at the Staples Centre.
The winning goal was set up by Ryan Getzlaf — who, like McGeough, was born in Regina.
Getzlaf was named the game’s first star after recording a goal and an assist.
We take you now to Saturday afternoon at Saskatoon’s Merlis Belsher Place, where the second annual Roughrider Foundation Winter Classic charity hockey game was held.
Getzlaf played on a team that was captained by his brother, Chris.
One of the referees was none other than Luke McGeough, Mick’s proud son.
What are the odds?
“I just think it was cool,” Luke McGeough said while seated beside Tarrington Wyonzek in the referees’ room.
“It’s always cool when there’s that local connection to a milestone or something like that. I didn’t even know that was the case, but it’s cool to say, ‘Hey, remember when a Regina boy set up the winning goal in Mick’s last game?’
“That’s how you want to see guys go out in their career — with cool little stories like that.”
Mick McGeough, who loved to tell stories, was only 62 when he passed away on Nov. 23, 2018.
“Mick was one of my favourites in the NHL,” said Getzlaf, who amassed 1,019 points over 17 seasons with Anaheim.
“For many years, Mick and I were able to interact on the ice. His son’s a lot like him, so it was a blast out there.”
Luke McGeough also has a deep connection to the Winter Classic, which was first held on March 14, 2023. He has refereed in both such games.
His sister, Karlie McGeough, played a key role in organizing the 2023 and 2024 Winter Classics while employed as the Roughrider Foundation’s Marketing and Communications Associate.
“It’s just an honour to even get asked to do this,” Luke McGeough said. “They can find a lot more people who are a lot more accomplished in officiating than me, but they’d be hard-pressed to find a guy who enjoys stuff like this as much as me.
“We come up here and basically volunteer. We could be making money elsewhere on the road, but we choose to come up and enjoy ourselves for a couple of nights and get to meet some people who we haven’t met before.”
The McGeough connection is also fitting because Mick was a long-time Roughriders season-ticket member.
“He was very spicy when he watched games,” Luke said with a laugh. “He was always very invested in the games.
“For being a former official, he was pretty hard on the officials, even when they made no-brainer calls. I always got a kick out of that.
“We had fun going to those games and he loved it.”