By Warren Kozireski —
He is often one of four freshmen on the Michigan State defense along with a freshman goaltender, but that has not deterred Patrick Geary from making a quick impact on the top-ten ranked Spartans defense.
Impact is the appropriate word to describe the 6’1”, 185 lb. left shot; he does not shy away from contact, is regularly clearing the front of the Spartans net. Which he also did over his four seasons with the Buffalo Jr. Sabres organization and two with Waterloo in the USHL.
“Tough in the beginning for sure; I was in and out of the lineup and then didn’t play for a month, but got my chance, stuck with it and just kept going from there,” Geary said about his first collegiate season after the Spartans swept nationally ranked Penn State on the road.
“Consistency I think is a big part of my game. I like to play hard; I like to play physical and that’s what the coaches like. Just keep moving the puck north and keep to my game.”
Geary registered his first collegiate point in his second game on home ice against Lake Superior State with his first goal at Ohio State Nov. 4. He seems to like playing against Penn State with one goal and two assists over four games this season.
He was invited to the Team USA camp for the recent World Junior tournament in Sweden but was one of the final cuts.
“Definitely disappointing, but a great opportunity, great experience to play against those guys and see how they prepare and train…definitely a great experience and I’m happy they ended up winning gold.”
Michigan State has some good history with players from the Buffalo area with Tim Kennedy, Mike Ratchuk and Chris Mueller (West Seneca) on the roster when they last won the national championship in 2007. And Amherst native Dave Arkeilpane was on the 1986 title team as well.
So, Geary may prove to be a bit of a good luck charm as the Spartans have quickly rebuilt into a title contender.
“Tim Kennedy has helped me my whole career. He was my 16-year coach, and we still stay in touch to this day, and I see him in the summer to skate and work out. He told me to go (to Michigan State), and I trusted him and knew it was the right spot. And Ratchuk, my dad is really close friends with them, so definitely a good connection there.”
Unlike many Division I college hockey players, Geary did not leave home in his mid-teens to pursue his hockey dream but stayed comparably in his backyard playing with the Jr. Sabres from his 13U campaign through 16U.
“It was just trust in the Jr. Sabres; we knew the organization they had, and I believed in them, and they believed in me. My adviser obviously helped me a lot, but I didn’t really see a need to move away, and I knew I would play in the USHL eventually, so I was just waiting for that opportunity.”
That came with Waterloo where he put up 30 points over 115 games in two seasons.
“I had great billets and was kind of at home for two years and made it a lot better to be at home and be comfortable in a house. It was great, I loved it there. The coaches and the staff is all unreal so I was very happy with my time there.”
Geary turns 20 years old Feb. 18 and seems more than happy to be on the ground floor of the Michigan State hockey rebuild under second year head coach Adam Nightengale committing just months after the coaching staff was named.
“I knew they were new and obviously I was going to be new coming in, so I just felt that it was the perfect spot for me, and it turned out great.”
It has been a mutual progression for both the player and the program. Maybe the Buffalo magic comes alive again for Michigan State over the next few seasons, such as in 2025 when the Frozen Four returns to St. Louis, exactly the location when the Spartans last won in 2007.
(Photos provided by Michigan State U. Athletic/Hockey Departments)