Beauval’s Roy taken by Calgary in NHL draft
by Derek Cornet
Dreams may sometimes seem outlandish, but a hockey player from Beauval is proof anything can happen if you try hard enough.
It was a pivotal moment for Eric Roy, 18, when he heard his name called at the National Hockey League (NHL) draft in Newark, New Jersey June 30. Roy was drafted in the fifth round by the Calgary Flames and was the 135th pick out of 211 players.
“It was exciting to go to Newark and to be picked for the Calgary Flames,” Roy said.
Roy recently finished his third season with the Brandon Wheat Kings of the Western Hockey League (WHL). He played 72 games in the team’s 2012-13 campaign, scoring 17 goals and 22 assists, earning 39 points, and ended the season with -32 for on-ice standings.
“I was trying to do too much this year,” Roy said. “In the second half, I kind of just took it easy and that worked out well for me.”
Roy believes he has grown a lot as a hockey player during his time in Brandon. He said he didn’t perform that well in the first season, but he has improved since following the advice of his coaches.
As for playing in the NHL, Roy said he has a lot of work to do. In the fall he plans to continue playing for Brandon until he can prove he’s ready to lace up his skates for his first NHL outing. He said he has to listen to what he’s told while training because the coaches are going to know what they want him to do.
“They’re telling me I’ve got to put some meat on my bones and get bigger,” he said.
Roy’s parents, Bill and Karen Roy, have been supportive throughout their son’s hockey career.
“We always told him if he didn’t quit and he worked hard, no matter what happened, one day he would probably make it,” Karen Roy said. “It’s a dream come true.”
Roy began playing hockey when he was five years old. Playing hockey was particularly difficult for Roy growing up because he had nobody his age to play with. As he got older, his parents began driving him to Meadow Lake to compete in higher divisions and, for five years, he fine-tuned his hockey skills.
“It was tough on the family to travel between Beauval and Meadow Lake several times a week for practices and games,” Karen Roy said.
She went on to say it was sometimes exhausting for her to travel to all the games, but said she did it because she knew it was what her son wanted. They felt it was only fitting they also follow him to the NHL draft.
“We wanted to go and be with him when he heard his name called,” Karen Roy said.
When they arrived back in Beauval at 6:30 a.m. July 2, there was a sign at the turn off into the village that said “Welcome back, Eric Roy,” and their home had been decorated with posters of congratulations and support. The community also hosted a picnic to celebrate Roy’s homecoming.
Support is one of the key aspects to a hockey career, said former hockey player and Ile-a-la Crosse resident Louis Gardiner. He played for the Flin Flon Bombers of the Western Hockey League in 1974-75. Gardiner said aboriginal athletes face unique obstacles such as coping with different lifestyles away from home and ensuring they’re positive role models. He said all the stress could eventually get to them and they need to know they’ve got support.
“They need to know who they can call and have a discussion with,” Gardiner said. “They need that person to say, ‘No, hang in there.’”