Lincoln Stars center Kevin Roy admitted he just wanted to do something special during his draft-eligible year in the United States Hockey League.
His mission was accomplished by being named 2011-12 USHL Player of the Year.
Roy became the first player in the league's Tier 1 era (2002-present) to score at least 50 goals in a season and he led the league with 104 points. He helped Lincoln to a 38-18-4 regular-season record, the most wins for the Stars in 10 years.
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"The coaches gave me a chance right at the beginning to prove what I could do and I just started from there," Roy told NHL.com. "In the first three games, I was pointless, and then in the fourth game just exploded."
After a minus-2 rating in those opening three games, Roy went on an eight-game point-scoring streak, supplying 11 goals and 18 points. He finished the season with 54 goals.
"The coaches allowed me to be creative and that's what I liked a lot," Roy said. "They let me do what I do best. They were supportive and also got on me when they needed to be."
It is likely to pay off in a selection during the 2012 NHL Draft, to be held at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh on June 22-23. Roy is ranked No. 78 among North American skaters by Central Scouting.
Roy scored well in the fitness testing at the Combine, finishing among the top 10 in seven categories, including Anaerobic Fitness fatigue index, body fat, push-ups (45) and pull strength.
"Not a whole lot of players get drafted, so it would be something special to hear my name," Roy said. "Being drafted would be just the beginning, though. I've got to work harder after the draft because you never know what can happen; you have to earn your spot to play at that level."
Roy's 2011-12 campaign in Lincoln will even be remembered at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, where a pair of his hockey gloves used during his record-breaking season will be displayed.
"Kevin plays the game at a pace and intensity that helps [compensate for his stature]," Central Scouting's David Gregory told NHL.com. "His biggest asset is his brain. He plays with such a good hockey IQ. He sees the ice so well, and when there's an opportunity, he makes something happen. As the year progressed, he got better and better in one of the best amateur leagues."
Gregory said he believes Roy (5-foot-9, 168 pounds) could offer great value to a team looking for a diamond in the rough during the middle rounds of the draft.
"If you get him in a spot where there's still value there, and if he progresses and makes it, it's a great fit," Gregory said. "Teams will try not to pick him too early … that's the whole game of the draft. But I think that there are some similar kids who have had success like him in recent years. Look at a kid like Jaden Schwartz, who played in the USHL and had similar success."
Schwartz, drafted by the St. Louis Blues in the first round (No. 14) in 2010, was named the USHL Forward of the Year and earned a spot on the all-USHL first team in 2009-10 after leading the league with 83 points (33 goals) with the Tri-City Storm.
Roy, 19, ended the regular season riding a 15-game point streak, totaling 16 goals and 31 points over that stretch. He is the first USHL player to reach the 50-goal mark since 1993-94, and his 54 goals are the most by a USHL player since 1988-89. Roy also led the USHL with a plus-44 rating and 28 power-play points (14 goals, 14 assists).
"I think we witnessed one of the great individual performances in the history of the league," Lincoln president Jim Pflug said. "He did it with confidence, but also with humility that made him not only a fan favorite, but also a favorite among his teammates. The maturity he showed in how he handled success was pretty extraordinary for someone his age."
In the USHL playoffs, Roy led the Stars with seven goals and 10 points, but his team was eliminated in the Western Conference Final series by the Waterloo Black Hawks.
There were two other highly regarded 2012 draft-eligible prospects named all-USHL first team. Here's a closer look at each player:
Zemgus Girgensons, C, Dubuque: The team captain led the Fighting Saints with 24 goals and 55 points playing 49 of the team's 60 regular-season games.
Girgensons, No. 18 on Central Scouting's list of North American skaters, scored eight goals over his last seven games of the season. That included his first USHL hat trick on March 24 in a 4-1 victory over Tri-City.
"He plays right on the edge, plays an aggressive, physical game," Central Scouting's Jack Barzee told NHL.com. "He's played with injuries and has a lot of internal toughness. He's got a great set of hands and is a team guy. I think the higher level he goes, the more he stands out, the more he puts people on the edge of their seats because he can score and finish."
With Girgensons in the lineup, Dubuque posted a 34-9-3 record but was 2-11-1 without him for a full 60 minutes. He finished tied for fourth in the league with six game-winning goals. He also represented his native Latvia at the 2012 World Junior Championship last January, tying for the team lead with two goals and generating a team-leading 16 shots in six games.
Barzee said he believes the 6-foot-1 1/2, 198-pound center, who is committed to the University of Vermont in the fall, is a solid first-round choice.
"I wouldn't be surprised if he went in the top 12 … I know some teams that really like him," Barzee said.
Jordan Schmaltz, D, Green Bay: Schmaltz saw plenty of ice time in every situation, finishing tied for second in scoring among all USHL defensemen with 41 points, including 10 goals, in 55 regular-season games.
"This is the type of player everybody wants on their team because he's a puck-moving offensive defenseman who can see opportunities, spring forward and make the great pass from any situation," Gregory told NHL.com. "He loves to join in the rush and has that skating ability to sort of take the risk of taking the puck deep, and being able to get back using his skating ability."
After starting the season with the Sioux City Musketeers, Schmaltz (6-foot-2, 189 pounds) was acquired by the Gamblers and put up seven goals and 35 points 46 games for the Clark Cup champion. He posted two goals, seven points and a plus-10 rating in 12 playoff games.
"Winning a championship at any level makes you understand what you have to compete like to win, so that always helps," Gregory said. "As far as the trade goes, you don't know what the reasons were, but both teams were trying to improve. The player must come to grips with why he got moved though. Maybe he wanted the move, but whatever the reason, he went through that and was able to go to a new team and be successful, so that's always a good sign with a young player that can handle that."
Schmaltz, who will attend the University of North Dakota, is the first player since the 1994-95 season (Scott Swanson, Omaha Lancers) to be named all-USHL first team in consecutive seasons.
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