Roy's Decision Pays Off for Northeastern
Gifted Freshman at His Best on Big Stage
by Scott McLaughlin/Senior Writer
BOSTON When it comes to high-end recruits, Northeastern hasn't had much luck over the past couple years. Since Greg Cronin left for an NHL job after the 2010-11 season, the Huskies have seen a wave of talented players decommit from the program.
Most notably, Johnny Gaudreau backed out in the summer of 2011, decided on Boston College instead, and has become arguably the best player in the country. Garrett Haar and Justin Kovacs both rescinded around the same time and opted for Western Michigan. This past spring, it was Jon Gillies, who has emerged as one of Hockey East's top goalies at Providence. Earlier this season, Cam Darcy left after nine games and Cam Askew decommitted in favor of BU.
But in the midst of all that chaos, Northeastern landed a gem named Kevin Roy. In an ironic (and perhaps karmic) twist, the Huskies didn't get Roy until he decommitted from Brown this past summer. That didn't make him very popular around Providence, but he has become a fan favorite on Huntington Ave.
So far, Roy has been everything the Huskies could've hoped for. His 30 points already this season put him first nationally among freshmen and fourth among all Hockey East players. On Monday, he scored all three goals in Northeastern's 3-2 win over Boston University in the opening round of the Beanpot. It was the first time the Huskies had beaten BU in the tournament since 1988.
"He's a highly skilled player. He's opportunistic," said Northeastern coach Jim Madigan. "I said to him before the third period started, 'You've got three in you. There's another one in there.' The bigger the stage for him, the bigger the event, he likes to rise to the occasion."
Given that Roy was coming off a record-setting 2011-12 season in the United States Hockey League, it was expected that he'd draw interest from some of the top programs in the country once he decommitted from Brown. He did, but playing with his older brother Derick — who was also going to be a freshman — was important, too. Ultimately, the brothers decided Northeastern was the best place for them.
"It was a real hard decision for me and my brother," Kevin Roy said. "I just think Hockey East is a better league, and Northeastern is still a good academic school, which for my family is real important. There's a great balance between hockey and school, which is important. I think the city of Boston, the Beanpot, that all plays a part, too."
Roy wasn't just a huge part of the Huskies' win on Monday. The Quebec native has been their best and most important player all season. And he will be very important to the entire Northeastern program moving forward. Roy can be the answer to many of those questions raised by the decommits and departures. He is proof that top-end talent can succeed at Northeastern.
"I think a change of coach brings a lot of questions to a player who had committed to a previous coach," Roy said. "It's kind of a normal trend. For the guys who committed to Northeastern, it seems easier to decommit when the coaches change because you have a better reason. I think I could be an example for other recruits. It's the best league in college hockey, and it's a great place to develop. I don't see why anyone wouldn't trust the program or anything like that."
Roy has put up numbers all season, but he did have some off games early on. Since the end of winter break, though, he has really caught fire. He opened the second half with five points against Harvard on Dec. 29, and has found the scoresheet in all but one game since.
His success hit a new high on Monday with a hat trick in his first Beanpot game. His first goal came on a great drive to the net from the right wing. His second was a case of being in the right place at the right time, as he saw a BU turnover come right to him at the top of the crease. He finished off the hat trick with some great hand-eye coordination, as he batted a rebound out of the air from the right doorstep. Madigan recently said that Roy just sees things that non-goal-scorers don't.
"I think you can work on it for sure," Roy said of his goal-scoring instincts. "You just have to be smart. I think being smarter has played a big part in me trying to develop. I think that helps me play against guys who are bigger and stronger, but they don't think the game like I do. I try to get to those empty spots and try to get the puck through. It's worked very well so far, and now I just have to keep doing it."
His defensive game has gotten better, too. Madigan now uses him on the penalty kill and in situations that require smart defense. On Monday, Roy was on the ice in the closing minutes while BU had an extra attacker on the ice. Roy said his ever-increasing success is all part of his development as a player, something in which Northeastern and its coaches have played a big part.
"I think it's met my expectations, and even more," Roy said of the university. "We haven't had the success we've wanted. We started well, but then we had a couple struggles. We have too good of a team to not be successful. I think we just have to fight through that and keep battling like we did today. Hopefully we can surprise everyone."
The Huskies will have a chance to do just that in next Monday's Beanpot championship game. If they're going to win, expect Roy to once again play a key role.