Buffalo's Derek just a young star
The Sabres only representative at All-Star Weekend has plenty of time to live up to his name.
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Roy.
That's about as famous a name as hockey will ever see. Even so-so hockey fans know of Patrick Roy, arguably the greatest goaltender of all time, who won four Stanley Cups, three Conn Smythe trophies and three Vezina trophies with the Montreal Canadiens and Colorado Avalanche.
But the new Roy on the scene is Derek Roy, the 32nd-overall pick of the Buffalo Sabres in the 2001 draft. And if you're not from Western New York and you're not a regular viewer of the Empire Sports Network, it's unlikely you've ever heard of him. The NHL's newest Roy played in the NHL YoungStars game in St. Paul on Saturday night, but you probably didn't notice him much there, either -- he had but a few hard shots against Western Conference goalie Phil Sauve in a game where Roy's Eastern Conference team was blown out by the West, 7-3.
But start paying attention, you'll know this Roy soon enough.
In four years with the Kitchener Rangers of the Ontario Hockey League, the Rockland, Ontario, native tallied 147 goals and 188 assists for 335 points in 242 games. In 2003, the Rangers, captained by Roy, won their first Memorial Cup in 21 years. Roy, with three goals and an assist and a plus-5 rating in four games, was voted the MVP of the tournament.
This season, while the Sabres struggled to a 12-16-2 start, Roy had nine goals and 14 assists for 23 points in 23 games with the AHL's Rochester Americans. In the middle of a franchise record-tying seven game losing streak, the Sabres brought Roy up to the big club. He played his first game on Dec. 13, a 3-2 loss to Minnesota.
"When I first came up, it wasn't the best of times. The room was dead, and it seemed like they were just hoping to not go out and lose," said Roy. "I thought I'd get sent right back down. I thought I was only there to change things up a bit."
In Roy's second NHL game, the Sabres lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins, the worst team in hockey. In his third, they lost to the defending Stanley Cup champion New Jersey Devils. But in his fourth game, Roy scored his first NHL goal in a 2-2 tie with the Ottawa Senators, ending the Sabres' winless skid. Since then, the speedy 20-year-old center has been averaging nearly 15 minutes of ice time, currently on a line with fellow fleet-footed youngsters Maxim Afinogenov and Milan Bartovic.
"That one definitely got the monkey off our backs," said Roy, whose Sabres have gone 5-5-0 in their last 10 games and are holding in ninth place in the Eastern Conference, just one deep of a playoff spot. "Now, I'm just trying to play my game every night. Everyone is trying to play their game every night, and hopefully, it'll work."
Roy has just two goals and six assists for the Sabres, but he plays bigger and tougher than his 5-foot-9, 185-pound frame would imply. His work ethic, on-ice vision and point-scoring potential earned him a roster spot with the Sabres and another in this year's YoungStars game.
So, get used to it. There's another Roy in the NHL, and he doesn't stop goals. He scores them.The Magazine's Lindsay Berra can be e-mailed at email@example.com.
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