Up in northern Saskatchewan, there weren’t too many people. I took a chance to go to Meadow Lake and it got me noticed, it got me drafted to Brandon and now it got me here. - Eric Roy
CALGARY, AB -- Every hockey parent has to make sacrifices to watch their kids hit the ice.
The 8 AM practices on a Saturday morning when you just want to sleep in, the hundreds of dollars it now costs for all the equipment or the bottle drives when it’s -40 C in the dead of January. Every hockey parent knows the story.
Defenceman Eric Roy’s parents top them all.
Growing up in Beauval, SK, it’s quite literally in the middle of nowhere. The small village with about 700 habitants is three and a half hours north of Prince Albert. It’s surrounded by forest on three sides, with the Beaver River to the east.
“Just a little community. They love me and they love anyone who comes there,” Roy recently told CalgaryFlames.com
When it came to playing hockey, the closest community was Meadow Lake, still a 90-minute drive each way.
But that’s the sacrifice of the hockey parent.
Starting out in the Atom age group, Roy’s parents would do that trip two or three times a week over the winter months just to ensure their only son could play the sport he loved.
“We put a lot of kilometers on my mom’s van,” Roy said. “It was really good that I had the support and they really pushed me to where I am now.
“Up in northern Saskatchewan, there weren’t too many people. I took a chance to go to Meadow Lake and it got me noticed, it got me drafted to Brandon and now it got me here.”
When it was time for Bantam, he moved to Prince Albert to live with his grandmother, catching the eye of the Brandon Wheat Kings who made him their 18th overall selection in the 2009 WHL Bantam Draft.
In three full seasons with the Wheat Kings, he compiled a stat-line of 32 goals, 79 assists for 111 points in 190 games.
A few rounds after the Wheat Kings picked Roy, they also added Ryan Pulock, a man who helped man the blueline for the Wheaties.
“We came into the league together, went to school together, we were really great friends on and off the ice,” Roy said of Pulock. “I was really happy for him. He’s a good kid, great hockey player.”
When it came to the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, Roy and Pulock were in opposite positions compared to the WHL Bantam Draft.
Pulock was drafted 15th overall by the New York Islanders, while Roy was left to wait.
“A lot of anxious times,” Roy explained. “I waited five or six hours but I took my time and waited for my name to be called. I was at the draft, sitting there.”
Finally, Roy heard his name called by the Calgary Flames in the 5th round, 135th overall.
“A long wait but it all paid off.”
Roy was recently in town for the Flames development camp, hitting the ice with 43 other players all vying to eventually hit the Saddledome ice.
He’ll be heading back to Brandon in a few weeks, trying to help his junior team improve on a disappointing 2012 season that saw them finish last in the WHL Eastern Conference.
“It was really tough. We had our ups and downs but it was a rebuilding year. The guys next year will be a year older and we just have to work hard every day.”