Roy reflects on scoring first NHL goal with Kings

Ross D. Franklin/AP Photo Kings defenseman Matt Roy watches the movement of the puck during the first period of a game against the Coyotes Saturday, March 9, in Glendale, Ariz.

LOS ANGELES — Former Michigan Tech Huskies defenseman Matt Roy, who has been playing with the Los Angeles Kings for the past 23 games, scored his first career goal recently.

On March 21, in the third period of a game against a Pacific Division rival, the San Jose Sharks, Roy fired a shot from the right point that tied the game at 2-2. The Kings used that goal as a springboard, scoring twice more to earn a 4-2 victory.

“It was really cool,” said Roy. “I didn’t really expect the put to go in, (but) when it did it was to tie the game up. It was at home at the Staples Center, so I got the crowd going crazy and all my teammates were super happy for me. It was just a really cool experience.”

Roy has gotten a chance to prove what he can do at the game’s highest level, partially due to the fact that the Kings have struggled throughout the season.

“It’s kind of been unique, because the Kings aren’t having the greatest season,” he said. “It’s been awesome playing with all of these guys. It’s been a dream come true. It’s been really cool. I can’t complain about it.”

The 6-foot-1, right handed defender from Canton, Michigan, credits those who were on the ice with him the night he got his first NHL goal.

“Playing with those guys, it’s awesome,” Roy said. “They definitely help me out a lot when I

‘m out there, so it’s pretty cool having those guys out there to share it with me. They definitely help me out a lot.”

Roy played 45 games for the Kings’ American Hockey League affiliate, the Ontario Reign. He was enjoying his best offensive season with the Reign, having scored eight goals and 29 points, when he got the word he was being pulled up the big squad.

“This year, I started down and I just kept working hard,” he said. “I’m obviously really happy to have this opportunity and hopefully, going forward, I can have more of the same opportunity and just improve myself within this league a little bit more.”

With great work comes great reward. From his formative years with Victory Honda Bantam Major AAA’s T1EHL in 2009 to 2019’s NHL success, Roy’s hockey journey has not come easily.

“It’s definitely been pretty surreal,” said Roy. “Sometimes I think (and) can’t believe I’m playing in the NHL, but I have to remind myself that I did work hard to get here and I do deserve to be here and (have to) have that mentality. It’s just been awesome.

“It’s (been) reliving to get here and have have all my hard work pay off. It’s relieving too.”

Adjusting to life on the West Coast has taken some time since advancing from college in 2017. Amidst the many changes in his life, his love and dedication to hockey has remained.

“Everything has been great,” said Roy. “It’s more of a lifestyle adjustment. I’ve just been playing in the American League for the past year and a half.

“It was a little weird at first, but once I got used to everything, all the people and the players, my game kind of slowly got better and better and I just became more confident. That helped me a lot this year and (then) I was fortunate to get the call up to the Kings. It’s been good.”

In three seasons with the Huskies from 2014-2017, Roy played 115 games and picked up 55 total points at the NCAA level, which helped prepare him for success at the next level with two AHL seasons with Ontario Reign before his call up to the Kings in February.

“It’s kind of different for each guy, (but) with me I was basically just playing in the minor leagues waiting for the call and waiting for my opportunity,” he said. “I’ve been lucky this year (because) I haven’t been sent down yet. There (are) some guys who can get called up (and be) sent down (at) any time. I’m just fortunat that once I’ve got called up, I’ve stayed up.

“That’s why every day I have to come in focused and ready to go so I can continue to improve myself. I think it’s (about strong) work ethic in practice. I’ve got to make sure my practices (are good) and then really just make sure that I’m playing well in the games and taking advantage of my opportunities when they’re presented (to me).”

The Kings’ home ice may be on the other side of the country, but Roy has enjoyed sharing his love for the Copper Country and, in turn, playing for Michigan Tech, with his newest teammates.

“I really like it,” he said. “I’m super happy going to (Michigan) Tech. (Michigan) Tech’s been really great to me and holds a special place in my heart, that’s for sure. I love going back there and it’s kind of funny, (but) not too many people know about Michigan Tech really, so it’s fun to tell people that I played there. It’s always fun to show people where it’s at on the map and how far north it is.

“I’m definitely proud and happy (and) am super thankful for everyone who’s helped get me here. All the coaches, and staff, and all my teammates at Michigan Tech, they definitely helped get me here and I’m really grateful for them.”