Over the 23 year history of the Hartford Wolf Pack, there have been many fan favorites for many different reasons. From the likes of PJ Stock, Dale Purinton, longtime captain Ken Gernander to Ryan Callahan, Brandon Dubinsky, Cam Talbot, and more recently John Gilmour, fans in Hartford have latched on for their toughness, leadership and ability to come up big a key spots during games. It’s easy for many to say that Igor Shesterkin has been a fan favorite in Hartford this season with his stellar play in goal but if you polled those who follow the Pack all season, many would say that the clear fan favorite this season has been defenseman Mason Geertsen. At 24 years old, 6’4” and 216 lbs there’s a lot to like.
Early Pro Career
Originally drafted in the 4th round of the 2013 Entry Draft (93rd overall) by the Colorado Avalanche, Geertsen played in the Western Hockey League with the Edmonton Oil Kings before moving on to the Vancouver Giants. Despite being a mostly stay at home defenseman, his final season saw him post his best offensive numbers with 13 goals, 25 assists for 38 points, each category best among Giants defensemen and also 5th overall on the team in goals. Geertsen also lead the team in penalty minutes that season with 107 and had 126 the prior season.
After that season, he opted to turn pro and played 9 games with the Lake Erie (now Cleveland) Monsters. 2015-16, his first full season saw him split between the Avs new AHL affiliate, the San Antonio Rampage. Geertsen netted 4 assists with San Antonio in 36 games but found himself back in the ECHL, this time with the Colorado Eagles where he played during their run to a Kelly Cup championship, scoring a goal and netting 3 assists in 19 playoff games. 2017-18 saw Mason in the AHL for good as he played 72 games with San Antonio netting his first 3 AHL goals and 6 assists to go with 117 penalty minutes with 3 more goals and 13 assists the following season and 134 penalty minutes with the Avs nee AHL affiliate, the Colorado Eagles. Despite being a very decent young defenseman, Colorado opted not to keep him around and Geertsen found himself a free agent.
Signing with the Pack
Geertsen had been passed over throughout the 2019 offseason until he was offered an invite by the New York Rangers to their training camp. While he didn’t impress enough in NHL camp, he stayed on for the AHL camp here in Hartford. Unfortunately not many of us knew about him having spent his career in a part of the country that gets very little coverage, just that he was in camp on a tryout playing for a contract. It didn’t take long for Mason Geertsen to make an impression during the first preseason game against Springfield showing good speed to go with his size and throwing a couple of very good hits. On September 29th, Geertsen signed a one year AHL contract with the Wolf Pack and had made the Pack’s opening night roster after that stellar AHL camp.
Since the beginning of the season, Geertsen has been a player that Pack fans have latched on to as that fan favorite. Big hits, dropping the gloves and sticking up for his mates when necessary and even making a couple of good plays on the offensive side of the puck in big spots despite only 7 assists through 45 games. His 73 penalty minutes are nearly double that of the second highest, Phil di Giuseppe with 39. Despite the one ice intangibles, one of the biggest reasons Mason Geertsen is considered a fan favorite is his interaction with fans. Everything from taking a picture to playing Rock/Paper/Scissors with young fans during pregame warmups, Mason Geertsen has given back to Wolf Pack fans to show his appreciation.
Player and fan interaction goes a long way sometimes and so does play on the ice. While other teams have their fan favorites and cult heroes, Mason Geertsen has quickly become the latest Wolf Pack player to steal the hearts of fans just as so many have in prior years.