HOUGHTON - There are a couple things Michigan Tech hockey fans need to know about incoming freshman defenseman Matt Roy.
First off, it's the traditional pronunciation of his last name, not like the famous Canadian goaltender. As in, Matt Roy once was a boy who loved hockey toys.
"One guy has ruined it for the rest of us," Roy joked of former NHL goaltender Patrick Roy (pronounced 'Wah').
Matt Roy skates for the Indiana Ice in a United States Hockey League game last season. The defensemen helped the team to the USHL?playoff championship. (Photo courtesy of Whiteshark Photography)
Second - and more important - Roy is a winner.
Fresh off a United States Hockey League playoff championship with the Indiana Ice this past season, Roy isn't going to stand out on the stat sheet for the Huskies.
He's a typical stay-at-home defenseman, better at throwing around his 6-foot-1, 200 pound frame in the corners than charging up the ice to jump into the attack. He said he would rather deliver a big open ice hit than score a goal.
But his teams win. And he relishes doing the dirty work that contributes to those wins.
So the fact that Michigan Tech looked like a program on the rise under coach Mel Pearson to Roy was a crucial factor when he was deciding which college to play for.
"I wouldn't want to go to a school that is in a standstill where no one is doing anything about it," Roy said. "You can see the progress there over the last few years. Hopefully I can contribute to that and we will take it up another level."
Roy was limited to just 24 of a possible 60 regular season games this past year after suffering a concussion early in the season and then a knee injury upon return from the concussion.
At the time, Pearson told Roy they would have to see him perform at a high level upon his return, or perhaps spend another season in juniors before heading to Houghton.
He came in and flourished over the final 17 regular season games before helping the Ice to a 9-3 record in the playoffs to hoist the Clark Cup.
"It was encouraging, because they were hesitant to bring me in after the knee injury," Roy said. "But second half of the season went great, and I got the call to come to Tech. Coach Mel said he was impressed with how I came back (from injury)."
With five blueliners returning for the Huskies - Shane Hanna, Riley Sweeney, Cliff Watson, Chris Leibinger and Walker Hyland - with more than 30 college games under their belt, plus several others coming in as recruits, Roy knows competition will be fierce for playing time.
Which is just how he likes it.
He believes his physicality will win out in the end.
"I am all about competing," Roy said. "I am going to Tech to play and I don't want to go there and play half the games. If I don't get in the lineup one week, I'll just have to keep working my butt off to get in next week."
With assistant coach Damon Whitten leaving to take the head coach job at Lake Superior State in April, there was potential for some awkwardness with Whitten as the primary recruiter for Roy.
Sometimes, recruits sign with a coach - not the program - and want out of their National Letter of Intent when that situation changes.
Not so for Roy.
"I talked to coach Mel and Bill Muckalt and they said they are still more than excited to have me," Roy said. "They both did a lot for me. I would love for Damon to still be here, but at the end of the day, the coaches still wanted me, and they were happy with how I finished the season.
"I can't wait to suit up."