Never underestimate the impact of confidence on a young hockey player.
Exhibit A is Morgan Geekie.
The 18-year-old Strathclair product is having a breakout season with the Tri-City Americans in his second year in the Western Hockey League. After posting 25 points in 66 games with the Americans a year ago, Geekie currently sits 12th in league scoring with 25 goals and 31 assists in 48 games.
"It’s a crazy thing," he said last Wednesday after Tri-City beat the Brandon Wheat Kings 5-2 at Westman Place. "As soon as you get that confidence, your game goes to the next level and you feel different. You know everything that you’re going to do and you’re going to do it right, so it’s good."
Geekie, who was originally selected in the fifth round of the 2013 WHL bantam draft by the Americans, scored in his WHL debut as a 15-year-old on March 16, 2014 against the Seattle Thunderbirds.
He played nine games with the Americans as a 16-year-old in the 2014-15 season, notching a pair of assists. When he was returned to the Yellowhead Chiefs, he led the team in scoring with 27 goals and 36 assists in 44 games and was named to the Manitoba AAA Midget Hockey League’s first all-star team.
He also played twice with the Neepawa Natives of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League, scoring a goal and adding an assist, before drawing an assist in two playoff games in the 2014-15 post-season with the Americans.
Tri-City head coach Mike Williamson said it took Geekie a year to get used to the league and the schedule.
"He came committed this year at the start of the year to be a dominant player and came with a lot of confidence and hasn’t looked back," Williamson said. "He plays in all kinds of situations, he’s got a great skill set, has good poise, he can shoot the puck, make plays, score goals. His battle and compete level, his intensity, is continuing to increase. The sky is the limit for Morgan, and saying all that, as good a hockey player as he is, he’s as good or better a person and teammate.
"He’s just great to coach."
After his first full season in the league last year, Geekie came to camp this fall with some definite objectives.
"My goals were just to get stronger and be more of a complete player and play both ends of the ice," he said. "I wanted to learn the things I didn’t know last year and add them to my game and keep improving."
It didn’t take long to discover his dedication had paid off. He had five points in four pre-season games.
"As soon as I stepped on the ice at camp I had the feeling," he said. "Everything felt good, it felt the way I wanted it to be and things just went up from there. It was good."
While he has played with different linemates all season, one thing has remained remarkably consistent: His production. He’s never gone three games without a point this season.
During the team’s unbeaten trip through the East Division, Geekie had 10 points, including two game-winning goals.
In Brandon he had four assists, including a sensational pass from just inside the blue-line through traffic to beside the Brandon net, where Jordan Topping scored.
He was named first star after the game.
"It was definitely one of those things that you dream about when you grow up watching these guys, to come back and have a performance like that with the team we did," he said. "It was awesome."
When the Americans visited Westman Place last week, a smart burglar would have been breaking into homes in Strathclair because it seemed like the whole town came to the game. Geekie appreciated their presence.
"It’s awesome," he said. "With everyone here, it was great support. It was awesome just seeing them in the crowd when you took a quick glance during a stoppage in play and just knowing that they were here was awesome."
THE CAPTAIN IS BACK: Nolan Patrick, who returned to the Wheat Kings’ lineup on Friday against the Kootenay Ice, was named captain of Team Cherry at the 2017 Sherwin-Williams CHL/NHL Top Prospects game set for Monday, Jan. 30, in Quebec City. Patrick’s Wheat King teammate Stelio Mattheos will suit up for Team Orr.
LENDING A HAND: The Brandon Wheat Kings will be helping out with seven local teams participating in the 2017 Hockey Brandon A&W Tournament of Champions as honorary coaches. They will attend a practice and attend some of their team’s games.
•Novice Wheat Kings — Baron Thompson, Kade Jensen, Stelio Mattheos.
•Atom 9A — Caiden Daley, Connor Gutenberg, Schael Higson.
• Atom 10A — Cole Reinhardt, Daniel Bukac, Meyer Nell.
• Atom AA — Rylan Bettens, Tanner Kaspick, Kale Clague.
• Pee Wee A — Logan Thompson, Garrett Sambrook, Linden McCorrister.
• Pee Wee AA — James Shearer, Travis Child, Nolan Patrick.
•Bantam — Ty Lewis, Zach Russell.