Brandon’s Eric Roy leads all WHL defencemen in scoring so far this season. (TIM SMITH/BRANDON SUN)
As much as Eric Roy has done during his Western Hockey League career, there has always been the nagging feeling he was capable of even more.
Based on the first two weeks of the regular season it appears the lanky Brandon Wheat Kings defenceman is coming closer to reaching his vast potential. Roy entered Tuesday as the leading scorer among WHL blue-liners with eight points, including one goal, in four games.
"I just want to get better every day and things will come," said Roy, who has helped the Wheat Kings to a 2-2-0-0 record. "The bounces have gone my way so far and hopefully they’ll continue."
That Roy is scoring is not particularly surprising. He was 10th among WHL defenceman with 53 points two years ago and although he fell to 39 points last season, his 17 goals were tied for fifth among rearguards. The challenge for the 6-foot-3, 195-pound product of Beauval, Sask., is to show he’s equally capable at the other end of the ice.
"Eric’s been very good," Wheat Kings head coach/ general manager Kelly McCrimmon said. "I thought he had a little bit of a tough stretch in game one when we overplayed him a bit, but the rest of that game and then the next three games I think he’s played really a complete game. He’s been good offensively, as we expect him to be, but he’s been real good moving the puck and defensively as well."
A fifth-round choice of the Calgary Flames in this year’s National Hockey League entry draft, Roy attended his first pro training camp this fall. An injury cut his camp short, but Roy said he learned a lot from the Flames’ veterans and his desire to make the NHL one day has also motivated him to learn to play a more complete game.
"That’s one of the most important things if you’re going to turn pro and go far in hockey is to be good in the D-zone," said Roy, who will turn 19 later this month.
"I think my defensive zone (play) has gotten a lot better. I’ve been working hard at it every day and the offence will come if you go defence-first."
Roy’s importance on the Brandon blue-line has been magnified so far with captain Ryan Pulock away with the New York Islanders and injuries that kept veterans Nick Walters, Taylor Green and Rene Hunter out during the first week of the season. Walters, Green and Hunter all returned on the weekend for Brandon’s pair of road games against the Prince Albert Raiders, while Pulock will make his season debut tonight against the Edmonton Oil Kings, giving McCrimmon a full roster at his disposal for the first time this season.
Tonight’s contest opens a five-game homestand for the Wheat Kings, but McCrimmon said the team is limiting its focus to facing the Oil Kings, who are 2-2-0-0 this season after losing in the WHL final in the spring.
"Our focus will be on being prepared to build off some of the positive things that we did on the weekend," McCrimmon said. "But we’ve got to turn that into two points in our building."
ONE-TIMERS: Edmonton filled its final overage spot Tuesday, acquiring C Reid Petryk, 20, from Everett for a third-round pick in next year’s WHL bantam draft and a sixth-rounder in 2015. Petryk, who had 40 points last season, may not make his debut with the Oil Kings until they visit the Raiders on Friday … The Oil Kings practised in front of 150 kids in Rivers on Monday, then held an autograph session.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition October 2, 2013