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Morgan Geekie Thrives in NHL Debut

Geekie tallied two goals, assist in eye-catching first game with the Canes

by Michael Smith @MSmithCanes / CarolinaHurricanes.com

DETROIT - What a week it's been for Morgan Geekie.

On Sunday, March 1, Geekie potted his first professional hat trick in a four-point performance that helped the Charlotte Checkers double up the division-leading Hershey Bears, 6-3.

On Monday, March 2, Geekie was named the American Hockey League's player of the week after racking up seven points (4g, 3a) in four games, which led all AHL skaters over that stretch.

On Saturday, March 7, Geekie and the Checkers were preparing to host the Utica Comets. Geekie was called into head coach Ryan Warsofsky's office. Geekie assumed he'd be dissecting video. Instead, he left the office to phone his parents and girlfriend and share the news of his first call-up to the National Hockey League. He hopped on a flight out of Charlotte at 8 p.m. and landed in Pittsburgh later that night, hours after the Carolina Hurricanes had already arrived from Long Island.

"It was kind of a whirlwind like that," he said. "Came to the rink, and the show happened."

Did it ever.

"How about him, right?" Justin Williams said. "I talked to him before the game. I said, 'You ready?' He said, 'Yeah.' I said, 'You nervous?' He said, 'Maybe a little bit.' I said, 'Perfect, just do your thing.' He certainly did it."

On Sunday, March 8, Geekie scored two goals and added an assist in an eye-catching NHL debut with the Hurricanes.

Geekie became just the second player in franchise history to net two goals in his first NHL game (Brad DeFauw, March 10, 2003) and the second player in franchise history to record three points in his first NHL game (Dan Bourbonnais, Dec. 30, 1981).

Geekie's final stat line included a spotless 100% shooting percentage (two goals on two shots), a plus-3 rating, a hit and four blocked shots in 10:22 of ice time. Not so plainly evident on the scoresheet were two offensive zone faceoffs he won that directly led to goals and his net-front presence that factored into both of his goals plus two others.

"He's got some grit to him. He knows how to play, and he's not afraid. I like that he had the courage to make plays. He wasn't just throwing pucks around," head coach Rod Brind'Amour said. "It was an excellent contribution."

Whatever nerves might have been bubbling before puck drop only had a chance to simmer as Geekie waited for his first shift. Some early special teams play delayed it by a few minutes.

"Sometimes that's just how the dice rolls. Not too much you can do about that," he said on Monday. "It was just about staying in it and playing my game when I got the chance."

On his third NHL shift, Geekie netted his first NHL goal. He won an offensive zone faceoff and then cut across the slot, turning his blade to redirect a feed from Jake Gardiner past Tristan Jarry, which tied the game at one.

Video: CAR@PIT: Geekie nets redirection in NHL debut

"It was kind of surreal," Geekie said.

In the second period, Geekie won another offensive zone draw back to Jaccob Slavin, who walked with the puck and wristed a shot that had eyes. Jarry's eyes, meanwhile, were taken away by the net-front presence of Geekie, who nearly even got his stick on the shot.

Video: CAR@PIT: Slavin sails one home off the draw

Later in the second, Geekie was once again in and around the front of the net, this time on a Canes' power play. He cruised through the slot as Gardiner ripped a one-timer to the twine.

Video: CAR@PIT: Gardiner rips scorching one-timer for PPG

One goal for Geekie and two more for the Canes, all on his first eight shifts in the NHL.

Late in regulation, even though the Canes' win was all but in the bag, Geekie kept fighting. He took a hit and found Haydn Fleury at the point for a shot that was tipped on net. Jordan Martinook retrieved his own rebound, a shot that then bounced over to Geekie, who, on his second whack at the puck, buried his second goal of the game.

Video: CAR@PIT: Geekie scores in 3rd period

Have an afternoon, kid.

Maybe it was Jordan Martinook's pregame premonition.

"I don't want to say anything," he smiled at Geekie in the hallway before warm-ups, "but I have been a part of a few first goals. Just sayin'."

Tweet from @Canes: "I don't wanna say anything, but I have been a part of 2 first goals" 😂Marty is a gem pic.twitter.com/qF4ikvIXV0

"We'll chalk it up to that, for sure," Geekie laughed after the game.

Maybe it was that he didn't have much time to wrap his head around what was happening.

"You go out there and play the game you're used to playing," Geekie said. "I just tried to go out there, keep things simple, adjust to the speed of the game and play hard."

Maybe Geekie was riding the wave of a week to remember.

Or, maybe he belongs. He certainly played a game Brind'Amour relishes.

Tweet from @Canes: "Where's the kid?" 😏 pic.twitter.com/DGmS5cMuze

"[Brind'Amour] came in and said, 'Play your game. Keep it simple. Play hard. Play fast.' That's kind of his motto," Geekie recalled of the head coach's pregame message. "I have a lot of respect for Rod. He's a great coach and was a great player, so if he tells you something, you're going to do your best to try to imitate that."

Geekie's family met him in the hallway of PPG Paints Arena after the game. They then joined the first star of the game on camera for his postgame interview, during which Craig Geekie awarded his son the puck from his first goal, which Nino Niederreiter had scooped up on the ice.

"Special moment. I'm just really happy for him. It's one of those memories he'll have forever," Brind'Amour said. "His family was here, and they were all going crazy. That's what he's all about."

Tweet from @Canes: Morgan Geekie did a family interview after his 2-goal @NHL debut 😇 pic.twitter.com/8G21LVna4i

"It was awesome. I can't thank them enough for fitting me in their schedule," Geekie said. "It's one of those things that will last forever. I'm glad they could be here for it."

When the Canes arrived in Detroit on Sunday evening, Geekie finally had a chance to take a breath, savor the moment and reflect on the whirlwind of emotions.

"It was awesome to have my family here to share the experience with them," Geekie said on Monday. "The family that wasn't here, unfortunately, they sent me messages. It means a lot. I'm glad I have them in my corner, and I'm always thankful for the support I have."

Monday, March 9 turned into a well-deserved off day for the Canes, who snagged four crucial points against Metropolitan Division opponents over the weekend.

What does Tuesday, March 10 have in store for Geekie?

Whatever it may be, his family is en route to Detroit to see it.

"Hopefully there won't be as many nerves for them," he said. "It's good to have them here and soak everything in."

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