Lincoln Stars centre Kevin Roy (Jeff White, depicted image; USHL photo)Since Kevin Roy is seldom known to panic when he has the puck, it's not surprising he's patient about the path he's trying to take to pro hockey.
This season, the Lac Beauport, Que., resident lived up to even exceeded the expectations that have enveloped him since he became a YouTube sensation as an adolescent. Roy, as a newcomer to the USHL, had his way with the league by amassing 54 goals and 104 points in 59 games for the Lincoln Stars. The Brown University recruit won the scoring title by 16 points over the Indiana Ice's Daniil Tarasov, an overage who was signed right out of the USHL by the San Jose Sharks' AHL affiliate.
For Roy, the dream season validated his choice to pursue college hockey. As a francophone who's on the small side at 5-foot-8 1/2 and 160 pounds, he decided early on college hockey would give a good safety net for his post-hockey life.
"I wanted to improve my English and you don't learn to speak it in the locker room," says the 19-year-old Roy, who spent two seasons at Deerfield (Mass.) Academy before landing in Lincoln. "You have to go to school and learn to write it, learn to read it. At prep school I achieved that. Education's always been a big part of my family and it's been passed down to me. There was no need to quit school and just focus on hockey. Being responsible for everything, my school, my homework, while I was at Deerfield really helped me mature as a human being."
Roy is a year older than most of the NHL draft class of 2012. The combination of his sweet skillset and a draft year that's thin in flashy forwards may dictate that he goes somewhere in the third to fourth round, where NHL teams often take calculated risks on smaller, skilled players. He credits Stars captains Dax Lauwers and Brent Tate for helping him get acclimatized to the USHL.
He even admits he was surprised when the goals and points came so fast and furious. A 50-goal, 100-point season is the USHL stats equivalent to a six-leaf clover. St. Louis Blues first-round pick and former Canadian world junior captain Jaden Schwartz, albeit in his age-17 season, had 83 points during his draft year with Tri-City.
"I wanted to do something special at the beginning of the year," Roy says. "Throughout the year, when I saw the amount of goals I had, I would say, 'wow, this is really happening, I can do it.' I think I just fed off that and never looked back."
While Roy had spent his entire youth in Quebec and New England, he says adapting to the U.S. midwest in Lincoln was not overly difficult. He even got a taste of big-time college football.
"It was a really nice college town. It was a great experience. I went to a couple of Nebraska Cornhuskers games, I was right in the student section and there were 85,000 people there. It was awesome."
1. What are some specific components of your game that you must improve before you may turn pro?
"I think I can work on playing well without the puck. I think I need to start to bring a pro mentality to every game. I can also find another gear in my skating."
2. How do you expect to balance the classes along with the practices and games at an Ivy League school such as Brown?
"Hockey's my passion, that's what I want to do for a living. I think at a school like Brown, I'll be able to balance things out. I really want to play hockey at the next level."
3. There are other Quebecers (such as Michael Matheson) who have passed on major junior. Did you ever waver on taking the NCAA route?
"It's a hard choice, for sure. Sometimes the Quebec major junior path is faster. Sometimes you think, 'what if I had taken that route two or three years ago?' But I don't regret the choice I took and I think it's going to go well next year."
4. Whom in the NHL do you really like to watch because he plays the kind of game you might need to play at that level?
"Pavel Datsyuk, he's pretty special. He's my favourite player to watch. He's creative, creates some new things that no one's saw before. I think that's why I admire him so much."
5. Favourite rink in the USHL?
"Sioux City was fun to play in. Green Bay had a nice rink. Omaha was pretty cool, too. They [the Lancers] were our rival and the rink was only 40 minutes away. Our own rink was great to place in. It's literally like a barn, but the fans are really loud."
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.