Jan. 12, 2018
By Steve Brown
On November 7, Kevin Roy received the call he had always dreamed of. It was from the Anaheim Ducks and he was to pack his bag and head to the NHL. Following a career night in the AHL just a few days earlier when Roy had three assists on November 4 at Ontario the Ducks brass were ready to see what he could do at the next level.
Hampered by injuries to captain Ryan Getzlaf, Ryan Kesler and Patrick Eaves, the Ducks were in need of secondary scoring to soften the blow with the most man games lost to injury and it was Roy’s chance to make an impression.
“I got a phone call after one of the Ducks game to come up in the morning, practice and then game the day after. It was pretty special,” said Roy who had scored four goals and six assists in 10 games with San Diego.
Two days after that memorable call Roy was prepared for his NHL debut as the Ducks were hosting the Vancouver Canucks at Honda Center. In his first taste of NHL action he went scoreless in 8:05 time on ice and fortunately his family was able to make the journey from his native Quebec.
“My family was there, so just a great story. Everyone remembers their first game, it’s a big deal,” said Roy. “It was a great moment and I was happy to share it with my family, too.”
It took only two more games for Roy to make an impact and provide the necessary depth scoring the Ducks so badly needed. Just over six minutes into a gritty game against the Boston Bruins Roy scored his first NHL goal against 2014 Vezina-winning goaltender Tuukka Rask.
“There are so many good goalies in (the NHL). I think every goalie, to score on, would be a pretty special one. Being against Boston there was pretty special just like the first game, I’ll remember that first goal for sure,” said Roy, who played four years at Northeastern University and captain the Huskies his senior season. Not to mention a Beanpot Tournament MVP in 2013 which is played at the Bruins’ TD Garden.
It would be six more games until Roy found the back of the net on Nov. 29 at Scottrade Center in St. Louis. The 5-9, 170 pound forward recorded his first career multi-point game with a goal and assist, including his first NHL assist and power-play goal. From that game on in a span of seven games, Roy found a niche going hard to the net and it paid dividends. In those seven games he scored five goals and added a lone assist in a stretch where the Ducks earned points in seven of eight games (he was a healthy scratch for one).
“Kevin has worked really hard over the last year and a half at his habits. There are a lot of habits he had to change coming out of college. I think he got rewarded right away when he got to the NHL, showing people that he had changed some of those habits and could adjust to the NHL game,” said Gulls head coach Dallas Eakins. “You are still seeing a very young player in the midst of some very nice development.”
In the seventh game of that stretch, Roy left his mark with his first career two-goal game to become just the second rookie in Ducks history to score two goals in less than three minutes (2:45) in the 3-1 win over St. Louis on December 14.
A key to his success in that span was the return of Getzlaf, who Roy skated with in a number of games.
“I was lucky enough to play with great players and get some great opportunities. When you play with one of the best players in the world like Getzlaf, you just try to get him the puck and get in front of the net, get the rebounds there,” he added. “Let him do his thing and try to pick up (rebounds).”
In another season that has seen numerous Gulls players make the jump to the NHL level, Roy was able to stick for a stint long enough to make an impact and show that he is capable of playing at the NHL level.
When the Ducks began their mandatory five-game break earlier in the week they made the decision to assign Roy back to San Diego. He earned seven points (6G/1A) in those 25 games during his first bit of NHL action, surely not his last.
“You just have to make the most of your opportunities, and I think I did,” said Roy. “No matter what you have to keep showing up and working hard to see what happens. It was nice, nice to get an opportunity there. It’s been a great few months here and I just have to keep working hard and do my best (in San Diego).”
Roy was back in a Gulls sweater this week, his first appearance since his dominant three-point night at Ontario in November. He didn’t sulk, he didn’t do anything other than showcase his skill and work ethic. Roy finished a number of checks, was solid at both ends of the ice and scored the game-winning goal in a 2-1 win over the Chicago Wolves to snap their 14-game standings point streak.
While he could be in San Diego for more than a game, Roy isn’t worried about the finer details about whether he’ll be in the AHL or the NHL. That will take care of itself. He’s focused on making the most of his opportunity and putting in the hard work to force his way into the Ducks’ plans.
“When you go up you see even the best players in the world always practice on those little things, you just have to stay ahead and when you an opportunity try to get better,” said Roy. “It’s all about getting a little better each day.”