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Fifth-rounder Roy emerges as Canada's 'jack of all trades'

Sherbrooke Phoenix Joshua Roy - QMjHL Images/Vincent Levesque Rousseau

TSN SportsCentre Reporter Mark Masters reports on the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship, running Dec. 26-Jan. 5 in Halifax, N.S, and Moncton, N.B. Team Canada skated at the Scotiabank Centre in Halifax on Saturday. 

Joshua Roy didn't get picked until the fifth round of the 2021 National Hockey League draft. 

"It's absurd," said Kamloops Blazers centre Logan Stankoven. "One of those weird years with COVID so they didn't get a real good look at him. He was a big sleeper in our draft and he's showing why. He's one of the best players." 

Roy, who went 155th overall to the Montreal Canadiens, produced eight points in seven games for Team Canada at the summer World Juniors in Edmonton en route to a gold medal. The Sherbrooke Phoenix winger scored in the semifinals and the gold-medal game. 

"Probably the quietest point-a-game [guy] that we had in the summer," Team Canada head coach Dennis Williams said. 

Roy, who stands 6-foot, 193 pounds, is now primed to play an even bigger role in Halifax. He was a stand-out performer in Canada's three pre-tournament games.  

"He's the player that's kind of popped to me the most," said Regina Pats phenom Connor Bedard. "I didn't know too much about him before the summer and he's unbelievable. You watch him in practice, and I don't think he misses a shot. He's so smart. He's someone I love watching." 

"He's playing with a lot of confidence," Williams observed. "He's a jack of all trades. He's done it all for us. He's been good on the forecheck. He's been good tracking. Good on the walls. Making plays offensively with his good skill-set and finishing off plays."

Roy scored two goals and added two assists in Canada's three tune-up tests. 

"I played three solid games," Roy said while also crediting linemates Nathan Gaucher of the Quebec Remparts and Zach Dean of the Gatineau Olympiques. "It will help my confidence for the World Juniors."

What's working so well? 

"It's just respecting the game plan," the 19-year-old explains. "Just putting pucks behind the D and forechecking. Our line works very hard on the forecheck and that's how we create our offence."

Roy's role keeps growing. When Seattle Kraken forward Shane Wright left Friday's game after blocking a shot, Roy took his spot in the middle of the top power-play unit. At Saturday's practice, Roy took over the bumper spot on the second unit. 

"It's nice," he said. "I'm not used to not being on the power play. I'll do my best to stay on it."

Roy, who led the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with 119 points in 66 games last season, usually plays on the flank. 

"It's a bit different," he said of the bumper role. "I got to support everyone on the ice. If somebody is in trouble, I have to be an option."

"That middle guy has to be good on all our puck touches," said Williams. "His creativity is very high. His support for loose pucks is good. He's a smart hockey player so we thought we'd give that a little look." 

Michigan Wolverines forward Adam Fantilli moved to the flank and Los Angeles Kings defenceman Brandt Clarke shifted from the flank to the quarterback spot, which had been filled by Seattle Thunderbirds defenceman Kevin Korchinski. 

"It gives us a different look on that second unit with one-time sticks there with Logan and Adam," Williams explained. "I didn't think that unit was generating a lot of shots on net so now we'll try some one-time looks."

Roy is already a key player on Canada's penalty kill. 

"Blocking shots," he said of the focus. "The main part of the PK is blocking shots and I think I'm doing that well."

Roy got loose for a shorthanded breakaway in Friday's game against Finland. 

"I saw the five hole and I'm a five-hole guy," he said. "I saw it and tried it, but the goalie read it pretty well. After that I was pretty pissed because they went back and scored, but things happen."

Why does he like the five-hole move?  

"Last year, I did a couple breakaway goals like that and it's worked a lot," he said. "I have a lot of speed and the ice wasn't that good so I was like, 'Do I dangle?' I just said, 'I'll try five hole,' and it didn't work this time."

Roy did score in each of Canada's first two pre-tournament games. He's scored 18 goals in 26 games with Sherbrooke this season. 

"He's really sneaky around the net and a really good goal scorer," said Stankoven. "We've seen it here in the first few games and I'm sure we'll see more of that throughout the tournament." 

ContentId(1.1897580): Habs fifth rounder Roy emerges as 'jack of all trades' for Canada


For the second straight game, Bedard took a cross-checking penalty. He was in the box when Finland scored the tying goal in the third period on Friday night. 

"I was pretty mad at myself," he said. "I took four last game, and I took the exact same one. I can't be doing that again and they scored on it, so I knew I had to get us back."

Bedard did just that when Canada got its next power-play opportunity. And it was a classic Bedard rocket. 

"Unbelievable," said Wright. "I mean, to get a shot off that quick, that hard and in that spot is, like, not many guys can do that."

Bedard scored a similar goal in the second period.  

"It's pretty special what he did there on both those goals," Wright said. "I told him on the bench that he came up big in the big moment. Obviously, he hadn't scored until this game, but he showed up in the big moment."

Bedard produced four assists in the first two exhibition games, but the expectation is he'll score early and often in Halifax. After all, he's already scored eight goals in nine World Junior games. 

"For Connor to be able to get those two and not have to think about it [is important]," Williams said. "I'm sure it weighs on those type of players quite a bit. We had a talk about playing the game right and relaxing and focusing on your play without the puck and when you do get the puck, you know, you're really good at that part and creative and skilled. But, for me, it was more him getting back to the basics and maybe just relaxing a little bit because we're not here to make them grip their sticks."

Now, Bedard can feel good going into the Boxing Day opener. 

"It's nice," the 17-year-old acknowledged. "I had a lot of chances last game, and it wasn't going in. It was pre-tournament, but it felt like a bigger game, and it always feels good to put one in."

"He had two nice ones," said Clarke. "Kind of the same shot. Kind of the same spot. That's just his thing. It's pretty marvellous to see that release and to see him beat the goalie like that clean every time and right under the bar. We see it in practice all the time. It's just his thing and it's pretty remarkable." 

ContentId(1.1897377): Bedard: 'The depth we've got and the skill we've got is pretty unreal'


Bedard attempted to pull off the lacrosse move, but Finnish goalie Jani Lampinen read it well. 

"It was pretty close," Bedard said. "He played it pretty well. The few times I've done it, I've put it high. I got to learn how to do it better and maybe work on it a little."

Has he scored one in the past? 

"When I was younger at a spring tournament," the North Vancouver native said, "but never really at a level like this. I need to learn how to do it a little better."

Columbus Blue Jackets forward Kent Johnson pulled it off at the summer World Juniors.

"We talked about it in the summer and when we're working together," Bedard said. "He can do it with his head up and eyes closed and stuff so he's on another level with it. And he's so good at placing it too so that's what I got to learn.

Brennan Othmann also thought about trying the lacrosse move on Friday, but didn't get the puck up. 

"I've been trying it in the summer a little bit since KJ did it," said the Peterborough Petes forward. "I'm more of a scoop guy than a pick-it-up guy. Just something I wanted to try out. I mean, I've done it in the past so I wanted to try it at a higher stage. It's a cool move. I don't get it off as clean as Bedsy, but maybe something I'll try again later in the tournament. It was fresh ice and wanted to give it a try."

Othmann was working on the lacrosse move before practice started on Saturday.

ContentId(1.1897548): Bedard on lacrosse move: 'I got to learn how to do it better'


Othmann has been wearing a cage since taking a high stick to the mouth in Wednesday's game. Is it getting easier? 

"No, not at all," Othmann said with a grin. "I can barely see out there. Hopefully, I can take it off before the tournament starts."

Othmann was still wearing the cage at Saturday's practice. 

Despite his complaints, Othmann has now scored twice with the extra protection on his helmet. He deflected home an Olen Zellweger shot on the power play against the Finns. 

"Good execution by the whole unit," he said. "Bedsy hasn't taken a draw in a while, and he snapped that back pretty well and then we just tried to capitalize quick. Zelly with a good shot, good play. I wanted to get a stick on it, and I got a blade on it."

Just like on Wednesday, Othmann celebrated with the John Cena 'You Can't See Me' sign. 

"I saw it at the last second," he said with a smile. 

Canada's power play converted on three of seven chances on Friday and went 7/18 (39 per cent) in the three pre-tournament games. 

"It's been good so far," Bedard said. "We can still clean it up a little. We found ourselves breaking out a lot. But it's been good. Both my goals, there's a good screen in there. I think everyone's scored on the power play now, so it's been good."

Every player on the top unit (Zellweger, Bedard, Dylan Guenther, Wright, Bedard and Othmann) scored a power-play goal in pre-tournament play.  


Bedard was taking that power-play faceoff because Wright was in the room getting medical attention. 

"Took it in a bad spot," the Seattle Kraken centre said of the shot block. "Just a bruise. It's going to be all good. It didn't feel good when it happened. Taking shots like that is part of the game. Put a little ice on it and got some Tylenol and Advil in me."

When Wright returned, he made an immediate impact. In fact, it appeared he scored to tie the game in the second period, but Clarke got credit. The two old friends, who played together in minor hockey, debated the play as they walked off the ice for the intermission break. 

"When you watch it on the jumbotron and slow it down to milliseconds it kind of looks like him," said Clarke. "I whacked it and I remember hitting something in between the five hole and they reviewed it and said it was me, so I said, 'Sure.' It was a big goal that tied the game, so I was happy either way."

Clarke certainly celebrated like he scored.  

"I touched something and looked over the shoulder and saw it was the net and that was my reaction," he said. 

"I thought I scored, but at the end of the day it doesn't matter," Wright said. "Just as long as the puck went in the net. I thought I scored in the moment, but they reviewed it and announced it as him so he must have touched it." 

Wright smiles.

"I guess he wasn't lying."


Canada is hoping some Seattle symmetry will benefit them at the World Juniors. Thunderbirds teammates and fellow Chicago Blackhawk prospects Nolan Allan and Korchinski have been reunited on the same defence pair of late. 

"We got to know each other a bit during Blackhawks camp in the summer and played with each other a bit there," said Allan. "We're definitely building some chemistry and getting better each day. He's a very offensive player. He gets up and down the ice real well. He's got great instincts. We fit each other's styles real well."

"They complement each other well," said Thunderbirds head coach Matt O'Dette. "It's a nice fit. Both Chicago draft picks so the Blackhawks were happy to see that. The way they work together, it just made sense."

Allan, a lefty, is playing his offside. 

"A bit of an adjustment at first," O'Dette said. "He's played it before, but it's taken some getting used to for him again." 

"I played the right side the whole time during NHL camp with Chicago so I'm comfortable there," Allan said. "I've played the left most of my life, but I have comfort there and not afraid to play the right."

The biggest challenge? 

"Knowing your play before you get the puck," the 19-year-old from Saskatoon said. "You don't have as much time on the right side. You got to open up and move your body to see the ice. That's the biggest thing." 

Allan has made a big impression on the Thunderbirds since coming over in a mid-November trade with the Prince Albert Raiders. 

"Just a rock solid 200-foot defenceman," said O'Dette. "He can defend against the opposition's top players because he's such a good skater. He can keep up with any forward. Very smart in how he reads plays and has that physicality and edge to go with it."


Allan was on the ice late in Friday's game when Canada was clinging to a 4-3 lead. 

The forwards on the ice were Stankoven plus Kelowna's Colton Dach and Vancouver's Zack Ostapchuk. What did the pair of fourth-line winger do to earn that assignment? 

"They've been a really good staple on our penalty kill," Williams said. "Bigger bodies that block a lot of pucks and are heavy on the wall. They will get out in the shooting lane and take up a lot of space when they're out there with long, rangy, good reaches. Plus, they're very physical. Whenever it's 5-on-6 like that and the puck gets on the yellow or on the wall, we want to quickly swarm and having those type of guys out there with their strength and size goes a long way."

ContentId(1.1897403): WJC: Canada 5, Finland 3


 Matt Patreu, who is part owner of the Esquire Club in Sault Ste. Marie, wanted to do something special to celebrate after local product Jack Matier made Team Canada. 

"We've been family friends of the Matiers since Mark [Jack's father] was playing for the Soo Greyhounds," Patreu said. "So, just wanted to do something for his son. He's worked hard on and off the ice."

So, the Esquire Club is now serving up Matier Beer.

"It certainly has a good ring to it, eh," Patreu said with a chuckle. "I know his dad is a pretty big beer fan so I didn't think it was that hard to put together."

"It's a great idea," Matier, a defenceman with the Ottawa 67's, said. "To have my face on the beer is a pretty cool experience. We have a case at home. It's going to be a keepsake." 

"That's awesome," said Stankoven when shown a picture of Matier Beer. "That's hilarious. That's pretty cool. Not many guys get that."

To be clear, Matier Beer is Molson Canadian with a special label. 

"I did bring it to the parents first," Patreu said. "They were ecstatic. I don't think Mark was a big fan of Molson Canadian, but once he saw his son's name on it, he became a pretty big fan. Our sales have doubled since we added the label."

The World Juniors are always a big deal in Sault Ste. Marie. 

"We're pretty hard core for hockey," said Patreu, who rents his basement to Greyhounds coach John Dean. "It will be more of a local flare this year. We always have a jammed house to watch on the big screens." 

"It's just in the culture there," Matier said. "Growing up, every kid plays hockey in Sault Ste. Marie so it's a special sport for us. The cold winters make for great outdoor rinks so that's also another aspect."

ContentId(1.1897556): Soo support: Matier appreciates having a beer named after him


Canada scored 17 goals in the pre-tournament games and each time the song 'Can't Stop' by the Red Hot Chili Peppers played. That was also the goal song at the summer World Juniors. So, are they sticking with what worked in Edmonton? 

"We got another one cooking up," Wright revealed. 

TSN pressed Canada's captain for details. 

"It will be a surprise," Wright said. "I'm not going to give it away, but it should be a good one. I hope the fans like it."

Wright credits Stankoven for coming up with the new tune. Per usual, there was an extensive search process. 

"We were looking at a few different genres of music," Stankoven said. "We don't want to reveal it yet, but it's a song that is upbeat. 'Hey Baby' was really good and our goal song this past summer was good too, but it's nice to change it up and have something fresh. I ended up choosing a song and a lot of guys liked it."

ContentId(1.1897547): 'Hope the fans like it': Canada plans to reveal new goal song on Boxing Day


Lines at Friday's skate: 

Othmann - Wright - Bedard
Fantilli - Stankoven - Guenther
Dean - Gaucher - Roy
Dach - Bankier - Ostapchuk

Del Mastro - Zellweger
Hinds - Clarke
Korchinski - Alan


Power play units at Friday's skate: 

QB: Zellweger 
Flanks: Guenther, Bedard 
Middle: Wright 
Net front: Othmann 

QB: Clarke 
Flanks: Stankoven, Fantilli 
Middle: Roy
Net front: Gauche