Even though he hasn’t seen a huge amount of ice time in his rookie season in the Western Hockey League, Tri-City Americans forward Jordan Roy is making the most of his opportunities and doing it with a smile.
A native of Kimberley, B.C, Roy returned to the East Kootenay Wednesday for the first time since graduating to the WHL with the Americans this fall.
“It’s great, I haven’t seen some of my friends and family in a while,” Roy said Wednesday evening following a 2-0 win over the Kootenay Ice at Western Financial Place in Cranbrook. “It’s nice they got to see me play.
“It’s good to get the win. It definitely boosts confidence moving into the next games.”
Roy and the Americans opened a four-game Central Division road trip in victorious fashion Wednesday evening, pulling within three points of the Kamloops Blazers in the WHL’s Western Conference wildcard race.
For the 6-foot-2, 190-pound Roy, he suited up as the fourth-line right winger for head coach Mike Williamson Wednesday night. Strong on the forecheck and physical in the corners, the 17-year-old kept the game simple.
“He’s got great tools,” Williamson said. “He skates well, he’s strong, he’s a good two-way player that can create turnovers with his speed. He gets some opportunities with his speed as well, he just needs to continue to learn the game and get that experience.
“We’ve got some guys ahead of him in the lineup, so he hasn’t played as much, but he’s a good teammate, a great kid and it’s been great to have him on our team.”
To this point in his rookie campaign, the former KIJHL champion and Kimberley Dynamiters pivot has worked his way into 26 games with the Americans, registering one goal and two points, along with 20 penalty minutes and a minus-3 rating.
“The speed of the game [has been the biggest challenge],” Roy said. “The KIJHL did a good job of preparing me in my first year of junior. The speed [in the WHL] has been hard to catch up on.”
A fifth-round selection (95th overall) of the Americans at the 2013 WHL Bantam Draft, Roy began his junior hockey career with the Dynamiters during the 2014-15 season.
In 21 regular season outings as a 16-year-old, Roy’s presence was strong as he put forth eight goals and 20 points in a campaign shortened by a broken collar bone.
The lanky centreman returned for the Dynamiters 2015 championship run, tallying a goal and two points in 11 KIJHL playoff games. He then added two goals and four points in four games at the 2015 Cyclone Taylor Cup — British Columbia’s Junior B championship — as his squad finished runner-up to the Campbell River Storm.
“I’ve been trying to work on my positioning and making sure I’m good in the defensive zone,” Roy said of his focus this season.
According to Williamson, young Roy has successfully done just that. With continued hard work, more opportunities will come.
“It’s kind of a scenario where you need to get out there to gain that experience,” Williamson said. “It’s a matter of being patient, but at the same time pushing and working hard. He’s done those things for us.”
The Americans play out of the WHL’s U.S. Division in the Western Conference, meaning Roy’s opportunity to play in front of friends and family is a rare one. Wednesday marked the only meeting of the season between the Ice and Americans.
Roy and his squad carry on through a four-game Central Division road trip to visit the Lethbridge Hurricanes Friday night, before taking on the Red Deer Rebels Saturday and Edmonton Oil Kings Monday.
“Playing smart,” Roy said of the key focus for the duration of the road trip. “We have to just do the little things that make a big difference and keep winning.”
The Americans (25-25-2-1) are 7-2-0-1 over the previous 10 games and sit three points back of the Blazers (24-22-5-3) for the second and final wildcard seed in the WHL’s Western Conference.