HALIFAX – Coming off a career year in Buffalo, Derek Roy was an almost automatic selection to Team Canada for the World Championship. Roy did much to replace the departed scoring of Daniel Briere and Chris Drury with the Sabres, leading the team in scoring with 81 points (including 32 goals). The centreman from Ottawa, Ontario, is returning to the scene of his only other appearance for Canada, the 2003 World Junior Championship.
"I have a lot of great memories coming here," Roy said after practice today. "The city was excited, the fans rallied behind us. It was a really exciting time."
Indeed, Canada made it to the gold-medal game against Russia, one of the most exciting final games in U20 history. The visitors spoiled the party, though, coming from behind to defeat Canada 3-2. Canada entered the third period with a 2-1 lead only to surrender two goals in the final 20 minutes.
Roy is unique also for the fact that his only two international appearances have, ironically, come on the smaller North American ice. "Yeah, I’m a small-ice international player," he joked. In truth, though, it makes the transition from the OHL (Kitchener) or the NHL to the international game much easier. "There’s no difference for me, really. It’s easy to adjust."
Soon after the Sabres were eliminated from playoff qualification in the NHL, Roy was notified by his general manager in Buffalo, Darcy Regier, that Canada’s GM would be calling with an invitation. "Steve Yzerman called and asked me to play, and it was an honour. It’s great to play for my country, and it’s a good way to end the year on a high note."
Roy’s rise has been steady but not immediate. After graduating from the Kitchener Rangers, he split the 2003-04 season between Rochester (AHL) and the Sabres. He had been drafted by the team 32nd overall in 2001. Roy spent all of the next season in the minors and even played eight games in ’05-’06 with the Americans. It has been only since 2006 that he has been a full-time NHLer, but the departure of Briere and Drury at the beginning of last season gave him the chance to play more and show off his talents to greater effect.
Roy didn’t record a point in Canada’s 5-1 win over Slovenia, but the way he has been playing it will only be a matter of time before he clicks.