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Crowded crease a healthy challenge for Roy

by Ryan Dittrick / Edmonton Oilers

- When the Edmonton Oilers acquired 24-year-old goaltending prospect Niko Hovinen off waivers from the Philadelphia Flyers earlier this season, Oklahoma City's crease got a whole lot more crowded.

2009 fifth-round pick Olivier Roy began the 2012-13 season as Yann Danis' backup after graduating from the starting role with the ECHL's Stockton Thunder a year prior. But after a so-so start in which the 21-year-old posted a goals-against average approaching 2.90 and a save percentage below the .900 mark, Roy was returned to the Thunder on Feb. 12.

The Amqui, QC product was outstanding in his recent stint in Stockton, posting a 3-1-0 record, 1.24 goals-against average and .962 save percentage. He was promoted back to the Barons two weeks later after Danis was recalled to Edmonton during the Oilers' monstrous nine-game road trip.

"It's been different. With the addition of Niko and Yann being called up a couple times, there have been a lot of challenges this season," said Roy. "You can't control those things, so I'm staying focused on playing one game at a time and when you get the opportunity to get the net, you have to try and make the most of it."

Roy did that this past Sunday in a win over the San Antonio Rampage, making 37 saves -- many of the sensational variety -- en route to a hotly contested 3-2 victory at the AT&T Center.

It was the goalie's first win since returning to the Barons on Feb. 27.

"We had a lot of penalties against, but we managed to keep the score in our favour," said Roy. "For myself, it was huge and it feels great. Every single game is really important for us right now, trying to make a statement that we're really a playoff team. There are no off nights for us.

"That's how we need to approach every single game."

The Barons and Rampage go at it once again Wednesday in San Antonio. According to Head Coach Todd Nelson, Roy will make his second straight start because, as the coach put it, "he deserves it."

"Olivier started the season with us and when we got Niko, he went down to Stockton and got some confidence there. It showed on Sunday night. Roy was put under a lot of pressure late in the game and he stood tall for us. It was great to see him play very well.

"Roy's been getting better and better and so is Niko, so we're very happy with their development."

"The group of guys (in Stockton) played great in front of me," added Roy. "I did exactly what I was trying to do. I was trying to take it one game at a time and it went pretty well. I was happy with my play over there and I'm trying to bring the same confidence I had in net over there to here with the Barons."

The goaltending situation could get a little muddy as soon as Wednesday once again, however. It appears as though Nikolai Khabibulin is good to go after missing the bulk of the road trip. As a result, announced by General Manager Steve Tambellini after the Oilers defeated the Colorado Avalanche Tuesday night in Denver, Danis has been reassigned to the Barons.

Danis recorded his first win as an Oiler on Mar. 10, stopping 21 shots in relief of Devan Dubnyk who was forced to leave the game after colliding with Marian Hossa and teammate Teemu Hartikainen.

At present, all three goaltenders will remain on the Barons' roster.

Naturally, Roy hopes he will stay in copper and blue long-term to continue to develop in the AHL and work alongside his veteran mentor.

"Absolutely, he's really helped me along the way," said Roy. "He's given me a lot of advice on how to approach a game, how to prepare, and even how to handle certain situations within the game.

"It's really been helpful for me."

-- Ryan Dittrick, | Follow me on Twitter @ryandittrick
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