Geary finds his groove
by Matthew Ondesko: Managing Editor
Photos: Michigan State Athletics
Nothing is given to you in life. You have to earn everything that comes to you.What you have done in high school, or junior hockey, means nothing when it comes to the next level.
After a solid two years at the Waterloo Black Hawks of the USHL, Michigan State freshman defenseman Patrick Geary knew the starting job wasn’t going to be handed to him. He knew he was going to have to work for everything, if he wanted to crack the lineup of the national ranked Spartans.
After a slow start to his college career, Geary has found his footing for the Spartans - appearing in 23 games - and has been solid on the blue line for a Spartans team that is looking to make some noise in the NCAA tournament.
“It’s been great. Definitely, the start of the season was little hard, being in and out of the lineup,” stated Geary. “I was able to get comfortable, and playing a little more, and it’s been unreal. The coaches have been good, and I have really good teammates. It’s been fun all-around.”
Any hockey player will tell you that it’s not easy trying to find your game when you are trying to find constancy. While you might not be playing in the game, you still have practice. Practice is where a player can find his game again.
Staying after, and working on the things you need to work on, is something that Geary did. He also never lost confidence in himself or his game, which at times can be tough.
“It’s kind of tough but the coaches kind of let us know just keeping working everyday and your chance will come,” stated Geary. “So, I was just waiting for my chance to come and then just capitalize on it.”
While Geary did play against the best of the best in the USHL, the college game is still different. The speed was fast in the USHL but not as fast as one would see in college. In time the game will slow down for an athlete, but it still takes some time.
Geary knows how to play hockey. He has been playing his entire life, but he still needed to get used to the speed of the game. He needed to get used to what the players where doing on the ice, and use his hockey knowledge to get through the early transition.
“The speed of the game (when taking about his early transition). You are definitely playing against some older guys out here,” stated Geary. “You are playing against some 25-year-olds. So, I needed to get used to playing against the speed and physical play.”
That is something that a lot of people watching college hockey don’t really get. Gone our the days of 18-year-old freshman just stepping in and playing right away. A lot of players go and play a few years of junior hockey before heading off to the college.
Add in the Covid year, where a lot of players get the extra year of eligibility, and some teams look very old. For those younger players just coming in it could be an eye opening experience.
“It’s definitely different. They are smarter, faster, stronger, but we have the same amount of older guys on our team, too,” stated Geary. So, we have good depth to our lineup to help us out with that as well. It’s kind of just play your game, and stick with it.”
If you are looking for Geary to light the lamp every time he hits the ice you are going to be disappointed. While Geary does chip in with points (three goals, seven assists on the year) that’s not his game.
His game is to be more physical and take the play to the opposing team. For Geary to play the type of game he wants to play night in and night out, he needed to get a little stronger.
When he came to Michigan State, Geary is the first to admit he came in a little lighter than he wanted to.
But, he worked his tail off during the summer to put on the weight he needed to so he could compete with the best in the BIG 10.
“We came in July 5, and I was a little lighter than I wanted to be,” stated Geary. “I just put on weight. Our trainer Will does a good job. I think I did a good job getting stronger. As for my game on the ice, I think I just play hard, good physical D, every weekend. So, I just stay with that, and stay consistent as we go into the second half of the season."
Geary has a lot of hockey under his belt even before he stepped foot on the Michigan State campus. The USHL is tailored more toward the National Hockey League than anything. Geary was playing 62 games a year, plus playoffs.
It allowed him to get a good sense of how his game would stack up heading into college. The grind of the USHL season is no joke. Even when he first got to the USHL, Geary was scratched a couple times to start his career,
But, the Buffalo native, just kept working hard.
“You are playing 62 games in the USHL, plus playoffs,” stated Geary. “You are playing a lot of games, you are playing every weekend. Just getting used to it. You practice four days a week, then play two games. You are getting the development you need. I loved it there. It was great for me.”
Before the USHL, and Michigan State, Geary went to high school at St. Francis High School, in Athol Springs. While his time was short at the high school, Geary loved every minute.
He even played lacrosse for former St. Francis coach Mike Burke. Burke can be intense at times as a coach, but Geary, who was a captain his junior year, loved Burke’s coaching style.
“I felt like I was only there for a year with the Covid and stuff,” stated Geary. “I loved it there. I made some good friends. Loved playing lacrosse there. I think I had a good balance of hockey and lacrosse. I think when I started to play lacrosse, I had a lot of fun with it. I had great teammates, which helped out a lot. Then, I had coach Burke my freshman and sophomore year. He was a great coach to have. Some people don’t like it, but I love it. I love when they are hard on us. I think you need to be pushed to become great. So, he did that everyday. I think if Covid didn’t happen we would have won that Monsignor Martin Championship, so it’s unfortunate. I love Burke, he was a great guy to me.”