Growing up in Strathclair, Manitoba, Morgan Geekie pursued a dream that has become reality:
Get penciled into the lineup of a National Hockey League game.
From the days of toiling through tough U.S. Division matchups with the Tri-City Americans, to present day with developing responsibilities, Geekie has earned the privilege to play in 99 more of them. Number 100 is tonight, a significant achievement, when the Seattle Kraken end their three-game homestand against the Dallas Stars, 6pm PT (93.3 KJR / Kraken Audio Network) at Climate Pledge Arena.
“As a kid growing up you kind of dreaming of playing just one,” said Geekie. “To do it 99 more times is pretty special. Hopefully it’s just the start and we keep growing. But something I’ll cherish for a little bit here.”
Geekie, an animated and engaging center with the Kraken who comes from a vocally-strong family, said he hasn’t discussed the milestone much with Conor, an NHL Draft prospect who is currently on a road trip with the Winnipeg Ice. However, it’s a different story, with Noah, a college baseball pitcher with Emporia State (KS).
“(He’s) giving me a hard time,” said Geekie.
Geekie, growing into a center who has earned more ice time and a bulk of face-off responsibilities, most recently went 13-of-18 at the circle on Friday in a loss against Vegas where he was the most deployed forward on draws.
The next step, head coach Dave Hakstol said, to refine the make-up of a natural center, who only had 38 games of NHL experience as a winger before the expansion draft, to the point of reliable in winning sweat and muscle battles.
“Morgan has made progress,” said Hakstol. “The first adjustment you had to make was playing back in the middle. The progression we’re continuing to look for is becoming more complete, shift in and shift, out, as a 200-foot centerman.”
“We’re continually asking him to be harder in some of those battle areas of the game.”
Hakstol said the same lineup will dress tonight, with adjustments to the line combinations coming. At morning skate, Geekie took rushes as a center for Joonas Donskoi and Daniel Sprong. Chris Driedger will start in net for the third time in four games.
The Kraken will face a Dallas squad headed toward the finish of a four-game road trip which will include a quick turnaround into their first visit at Seattle after beating the San Jose Sharks, 5-4 on Saturday night.
Dallas on the first meeting, 5-2 as hosts to the Kraken on Jan. 12. They are hanging onto the final playoff spot by one point, ahead of Vegas, who visits Vancouver tonight.
Dallas is also the second most efficient team in the face-off circle in the league, winning 54.5 percent of their draws.
“Every team watches video on guys,” said Geekie. “I don’t think face-offs are any exception to the rule. I think it’s good our team is starting to put some more importance on things like face-offs and starting with the puck.”
The Stars are led by veteran Joe Pavelski with 68 points while Jason Robertson leads Dallas with 32 goals.
PROJECTED KRAKEN LINEUP, APR. 3 VS DALLAS: