The 18-year-old Halifax native was going through a slump with the Gatineau Olympiques when the Islanders were looking to upgrade their goalie tandem for a Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) playoff push.
“As soon as I got traded, everything just kind of turned around for me,” Grametbauer said before Wednesday’s practice. “It really helped me out.”
Grametbauer, who was invited to the Tampa Bay Lightning camp in 2016, was expected to be a key piece for the Olympiques this season. He went 9-9 with a 3.71 goals-against average and a .888 save percentage. In Charlottetown, he’s compiled a 13-4 record with a 2.46 goals-against average and .910 save percentage.
“It was definitely difficult for me to know a lot of people were counting on me, and I was sort of letting them down, but you just have to stick with your routine,” Grametbauer said.
“Coming to a better team, with all the guys helping me out and everything, I think it boosted my confidence and helped me fit in.”
Islanders head coach and general manager Jim Hulton said Grametbauer has given them more than they had hoped for.
“It seems like his confidence is growing in leaps and bounds here in the last six weeks in particular,” he said. “He’s been a real rock for us.”
Grametbauer has gone 8-0 in the playoffs as the Islanders have swept their way through the first two rounds.
“For the guys to be playing as well as they are right now (in front of me) and me helping them out . . . I think it’s a really great team effort. We’re really showing we have an opportunity to go far this year.”
Grametbauer appeared in 14 games with the Truro Bearcats of the Maritime Junior Hockey League during the 2014-15 season.
Hulton said while the team hasn’t tasted defeat in the playoffs, there have been times when Grametbauer has had to keep them in games.
“We’ve had moments where we let down our guard, and he’s been really, really sharp and allowed us to kind of stay in things and pull ourselves back around,” he said.
Some people had questioned the Islanders choice for a goalie to pair with Matthew Welsh for the second half of the season.
“He’s been a wonderful story that a lot of people don't appreciate how well he’s playing right now,” Hulton said.
Grametbauer will see some familiar faces come Friday night in Game 1 against the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada.
“As soon as I heard (the matchup), I was excited to get the next round started,” Grametbauer said. “That's where my QMJHL career started, so I’m kind of happy to go back there and try and beat them; try and prove them wrong.”
He played 18 games with the Armada in 2015-16, sharing the net with Samuel Montembeault. Now they will compete against one another.
“He was somewhat of my mentor since he was an older guy,” Grametbauer said. “He taught me a lot my first year in the league and now it’s going to be fun to play against them and battle.”
Who – The Charlottetown Islanders starting goalie.
Hometown – Halifax.
Personal – Grametbauer is six-foot-one and 178 pounds. He turns 19 on Aug. 10.
Acquired – The Islanders traded forwards Shawn Boudrias and Carl Gervais and defencmen Will Thompson and Marc-Olivier Alain to Gatineau on Dec. 22 for goalie Mark Grametbauer and 19-year-old defencemen Nicolas Meloche and Jean-Sebastien Taillefer. It was the first of eight deals during the final trade period.
Junior career – Grametbauer started his junior career by playing one game with the Valley Wildcats in 2013-14 before making 14 appearances with the Truro Bearcats in 2014-15. His major junior career has taken him from Blainville-Boisbriand to Gatineau to Charlottetown.
Big-game player – After each of Charlottetown’s series-clinching games, head coach Jim Hulton has praised the netminder for his play at Baie-Comeau, Que., and Sydney, N.S. “That’s rising to the occasion,” Hulton said following Game 4 with the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles. “To close out a series in a sweep, you’re going to have to get some saves and especially on the road against a high-octane team that was pushing. He was terrific.”
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By the numbers
8 Playoff wins
0 Playoff losses
1.86 Playoff goals-against average
.936 Playoff save percentage
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Grametbauer’s family from the Czech Republic
Grametbauer plays homage to his family’s roots on his mask.
The Czech Republic flag is prominently displayed on the left side of the back of his shield.
Grametbauer’s parents, who are both from the European country, immigrated to Halifax. He was born in the Nova Scotia capital in 1998, but moved with his family to the Czech Republic for short time before returning to Halifax.
He has dual citizenship.
“Halifax is pretty much home for me, but every time (I) get to go back and see my grandparent and cousins, it’s always a great experience.”
Grametbauer speaks Czech, English and French. Isles centre Filip Chlapik is also from the Czech Republic.
“Sometimes in the room, we’ll start talking Czech, just because it’s our native language,” Grametbauer said. “The boys will remind us that we have to speak English because they don't understand.”