Future Watch: Olivier Roy
Roy's work ethic and confidence have him off to a strong start in the ECHL.
Those are photos including Devan Dubnyk, Theo Peckham and Liam Reddox – all who began their career and ascension to the Oilers as a member of the Stockton Thunder.
At the top of the wall is an eye-popping inscription, plastered in old English font, written “Making the Jump.”
Roy (no relation to “Patrick”) knows that he’s playing on a potential springboard.
“It’s always fun to see all of those players,” said Roy. “It’s always fun to see that you can be one of those guys to play in the NHL and make it to your dream.”
As a spectacular prospect who fashions his game on quickness and athleticism between the pipes, Roy was selected by the Oilers in the fifth round of the 2009 National Hockey League Entry Draft.
His resume boasts proven commodities. After earning the elite honour to represent Canada in the World Junior Championship last season, he signed his first NHL contract with the Oilers in March and got a second turn in as many years with the Oilers at the YoungStars Tournament in September.
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He opened up the Oilers run in Penticton donning the blue, orange and white sweater to match his mask and pads, making a series of spine twisting and limb flaring stops in a 24 save performance against the Vancouver Canucks (7-2 Oilers win on Sept. 11).
The next turn in his journey has taken his path to warmer climates in Stockton, where energetic and passionate Northern California crowds awaited his arrival in October.
Roy’s placement in a loaded farm system filled with blue chip talent forces him to battle for the inside track to an NHL job behind the veteran goaltending corps (Yann Danis, David LeNeveu) with the Oklahoma City Barons and other drafted talent (see: Tyler Bunz).
He gets to wear shorts and sandals on a regular basis, even in the fall and winter months. The lure of a day trip to San Francisco is only an hour drive away.
It’s no wonder he could get distracted when it comes to his future. Yet, everyday that Roy steps into a dressing room in his first pro season, his “game face” is already glued on.
“There’s no doubt, in my mind, he will be in an Oilers uniform in the future,” said Matt Thomas, who is in his fourth season helping mentor Oilers prospects as Head Coach of the Stockton Thunder. “I don’t think there’s any chance he won’t be. If he’s given an opportunity, he’ll make the most of it. He’s that type of guy who’s very much focused.”
In his first full ECHL season, Roy has been able to translate that philosophy into a pair of shutouts and an ECHL Goaltender of the Week award in his first 11 appearances.
In a span of a month between November to December 4, Roy went 4-1-2 with a 1.80 goals against average and .944 save percentage.
Thomas observed that the root of Roy’s success begins with the way he prepares each game day.
“There’s something that’s very defining in his development,” said Thomas. “His work ethic is second to none and that bodes well for him and the Oilers in the future. I think there’s an element of confidence in him that translates to the entire team. He goes into every game expecting to win and be a difference maker.”
“Our players see that and in turn it gives everybody in the lineup a chance to go out and do their job.”
Roy noted that an ideal nutrition – picked up at Oilers development camp during the summer – is part of his strategy when it comes to preparing for each practice and game day. It’s a critical ingredient to stamina, where he and other ECHL goaltenders face the common occurrence of back to back games or three games in three days.
“I try to eat a good meal at a certain time before a game,” said Roy. “I try to eat some pasta with chicken. If you have three games in a row, your body may be more tired so I’ll need to get more rest. But when I come to the rink I always want to be in the same condition.”
Most notably, Oilers goaltending consultant Frederic Chabot has been spotted on the ice with the 20 year old netminder in separate trips to Stockton, continuously working with Roy on his skill package during practices.
“The feel is more of him adjusting to the (ECHL),” said Chabot. “There are a lot of older players who know how to shoot and handle the puck in this league. He has to get used to that and is doing pretty good with that. He also has to learn to keep improving game technically – to simplify his game. He’s working really hard at it.”
Relying on the wisdom that Chabot provides as a former NHL goaltender, Roy was quick to point out Chabot’s teaching methods that often preach, “less is more.”
“Freddie tries to take your game to the next level,” said Roy. “He doesn’t try to change you around. He just tries to improve your strengths and works with every part of your game. He tries to make you a better goalie and make your game better.”
It’s enough ammunition for Roy to take aim at a spot in a future Thunder photo, set up on the dressing room wall.
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