Matthew Savoie and Conor Geekie knew they were up to something special.
Winnipeg Ice’s two star centers — the former an offensive threat while the latter possesses imposing power — have spent their WHL season battling with their team.
The duo also competed against each other.
Savoie ranks fourth among North American skaters, according to NHL Central Scouting, while Geekie follows in fifth place.
It was a unique situation that both players accepted.
“We supported each other,” said Savoie. I can always go to him if I have any concerns and vice versa. »
“We know the stakes,” added Geekie. But we’re very good at just having fun. »
Savoie finished the campaign with 35 goals and 90 points, a record for the Ice, which lost in the third round of the playoffs. Geekie meanwhile had 24 goals and 70 points.
Savoie added 12 points in 10 playoff games – missing five through injury – and Geekie had 11 points in 15 games.
NHL Central Scouting Director Dan Marr said the two players have unique skills and similar characteristics.
“Savoie likes to have the puck on his stick blade. He can create and finish games, Marr said. Geekie is more about being in the right place at the right time. He knows how to navigate traffic, protect the puck, break free and convert scoring opportunities. It’s two players with different styles, but they storm to the net. »
As with all hopes, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought challenges. Savoie and Geekie were no different. But the two players have taken different paths in 2020-21.
Savoie decided to go to the United States when the opportunity to play in Canada was in doubt due to health and safety restrictions.
“I was fortunate to find a way out and continue my development in the USHL,” said Savoie, who played for the Fighting Saints in Dubuque, Iowa. That was important for my development. »
In turn, Geekie used the break to his advantage.
“I grew up quite tall, so it was always hard to catch up with my body and gain strength,” he noted. I’ve had the opportunity to train, build size, get stronger and skate outside a lot more. »
Geekie’s brother Morgan is a third-round pick from the 2017 Carolina Hurricanes and now plays for the Seattle Kraken. He, too, was at home during part of the pandemic.
When there really wasn’t much else to do, the two brothers would spend time exercising at an outdoor ice rink under their father’s watchful eye.
“It was my whole family that did the training,” Conor Geekie said, laughing. That helped me a lot before the season started. It gave me another opportunity to catch up with everyone.
Morgan Geekie also set up a gym in the garage of the family home and it has been put to good use.
“We had the heater,” Conor said. There were cold days, but memories are made there. Morgan has been through ups and downs. He brings me a lot of character, just not his way of being humble. »
Savoie also relied on his brother Carter, a 2020 Edmonton Oilers fourth-round pick, during the pandemic as he prepared for the draft.
“When Carter was going through this process, he came home after a game and told me about his interview and the things that were said there,” said Matthew Savoie. To have someone like that going through this process is tremendous. »
Savoie and Geekie also learned to appreciate each other’s abilities—especially when playing aligning ice.
“He’s the smaller, faster forward and I’m more of the big, net-shooting forward,” Geekie said. He’s a very good player and it’s nice to be with him. »
Savoie noted his teammate’s impressive ability to use his size when in possession of the puck in the offensive zone.”
“The moves he can make and his shooting are on another level. He has a lot of power behind his throw, analyzed Savoie about Geekie. He has many skills and he’s a smart player. »
They’ll likely end up in different organizations in the NHL, but both players expect the friendship formed during this pressured draft year to remain strong.
“We’re very good friends,” Geekie pointed out. Even more now. »
“Our relationship is very special because we all had experiences at the same time,” Savoie added. I have so much support for him and I know it comes back to me from him too. »