Morgan Geekie wasn’t aware of the Manitoba players who came before him with the Tri-City Americans, but he’s quickly following their lead.
Geekie, a 6-foot-2, 180-pound center, finds himself second on the team’s scoring list behind Michael Rasmussen (32 points). Geekie has 28 points (11 goals, 17 assists) in just 24 games.
“He’s playing in a lot of different situations,” Americans coach Mike Williamson said. “He’s playing in a key position, and there are a lot of responsibilities on his shoulders in playing at center ice. He plays on the power play, he’s killing penalties. He has been on the ice at the end of the game, to start games. There has been a lot of responsibility, and he has taken advantage of the opportunities. He’s a key part of our team.”
Geekie, 18, said his offseason work, combined with playing alongside Kyle Olson, Brett Leason and others, has helped elevate his game.
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“I knew there would be a learning curve,” Geekie said. “Last year, I was filling a role — whatever they needed me to do. It was a good experience watching our top guys like Parker Bowles and Beau McCue produce. It was good for my development.”
Geekie and the Americans (14-8-2-0, 30 points) will be on home ice for a Thanksgiving week of hockey, starting Wednesday against Vancouver (10-14-0-0, 20 points). Tri-City will host Seattle (10-8-1-1, 22 points) on Friday and will take on Vancouver once again Saturday.
The Americans plucked Geekie out of the small Manitoba village of Strathclair (population 744) in the fifth round (90th overall) of the 2013 Western Hockey League bantam draft.
Strathclair is 162 miles west of Winnipeg, the hometown of former Americans Brendan Shinnimin, Adam Hughesman, Tyler Schmidt and Chet Pickard. They left their mark as some of the top players in franchise history.
At 16, Geekie had a banner 2014-15 season with the Yellowhead Chiefs of the Manitoba AAA Midget Hockey League, finishing with 27 goals and 36 assists in 44 games.
As a wide-eyed rookie in the WHL last season, Geekie had 25 points (12 goals, 13 assists) in 66 games.
Williamson said the Americans saw a lot of promise in Geekie and that it takes time for players to adjust to the daily grind of the WHL.
“I think strength and confidence has helped his game,” Williamson said. “He worked extremely hard over last season to get stronger. Not many players are able to put much mass on over the course of the season. Most players lose weight because of our schedule, but he was able to put on 10 or 15 pounds. He is stronger physically, has more experience and has had more opportunities. He’s come a long way.”
Geekie is tied for ninth in the league with his 28 points. His 17 assists rank third for the Americans, and he is tied for 16th in the WHL.
“We are happy with what he has brought,” Williamson said. “The preparation in the offseason has helped with a good start. The best part is there is more upside. He is working on his consistency. He has a pretty special skill set with his playmaking, his vision and his ability to shoot the puck.”
Just as Geekie has turned his game around this season, so have the Americans. Tri-City had just 14 wins at the holiday break last season. The Americans have matched that total this season with 13 games to go before the break.
“We had a couple of bad breaks with injuries last year, and we’ve had our share this year, but guys have stepped up,” Geekie said. “If we can keep it up until Christmas break, then come back strong, we will be in good shape.”