Eric Roy doesn’t plan to wait for training camp to make his pitch for a spot in the Calgary Flames’ organization next season.
The 19-year-old Brandon Wheat Kings defenceman has joined the Flames’ top farm team, the Abbotsford Heat, for the rest of the American Hockey League season. Roy is the second Wheat King blue-liner to join an AHL team following the end of Brandon’s season, joining Ryan Pulock, who made his pro debut with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers on Monday.
"It’s obviously really exciting," said Roy, a 6-foot-3, 195-pounder from Beauval, Sask. "It’s the pro ranks now. The hockey’s a lot different up here, and I’m just really looking forward to getting started, and it’s going to be a lot of fun."
The Flames chose Roy in the fifth round of last year’s National Hockey League draft and don’t have to sign him until after next season, giving them the option of sending him back to Brandon for another year of junior.
The Heat are headed for the playoffs and might not be in a hurry to put Roy in the lineup this spring, but he hopes to do what he can, whether in games or in practice, to convince the Flames he’s ready to earn a contract now.
"Obviously I’m here to work hard and I’m going to do what I’ve got to do, and do what I’m told to do," said Roy, who had 11 goals and 33 assists in 66 games with the Wheat Kings this season. "… Hopefully earn a contract and hopefully earn some playing time."
Wherever Roy plays next season, it doesn’t look like it will be in Abbotsford. The Flames are moving their AHL team out of the British Columbia city, and with the Vancouver Canucks declaring they won’t move their farm team to the Fraser Valley for next season, there has been speculation a WHL club could be targeted for Abbotsford’s 7,000-seat arena.
CRACKING DOWN: The Western Hockey League has thrown the book at some players and teams for late-series second-round shenanigans.
Richard Nejezchleb has been suspended two games for a low hit on Oil King Henrik Samuelsson that earned the Wheat King forward a major for clipping late in Brandon’s season-ending 5-1 loss in Edmonton on Friday. Nejezchleb, a Czech import, will serve the suspension at the beginning of next season if he returns to the WHL as a 20-year-old.
Nejezchleb’s ban looks like a slap on the wrist compared to the punishment the Victoria Royals were hit with following their final game of the season, a 5-1 loss to the Portland Winterhawks on Thursday.
Brandon Magee of the Royals was suspended 12 games — the WHL’s longest ban this season — for cross-checking two opponents in the head, starting a late-game brawl. Victoria teammate Steven Hodges got five games for a pair of sucker punches during a fracas at the end of the second period.
Additionally, the Royals were hit with a $10,000 fine, enormous by the standards of the WHL, whose monetary penalties are normally in the $500 range.
The WHL also a levied $500 fine on Kootenay Ice head coach Ryan McGill for his game misconduct late in Monday’s 2-1 loss to the Medicine Hat Tigers.
AROUND THE WHL: The Ice and the Tigers will play the first Game 7 of this year’s playoffs tonight in Medicine Hat, Alta., with the winner advancing to play Edmonton. A pair of Ice players, D Landon Peel of Virden and D Landon Cross of Brandon, are the last two Westmanites alive in the playoffs … Medicine Hat RW Cole Sanford is the WHL player of the week after notching four goals and seven points in three games.