It’s not as though there hadn’t been hat tricks in a Beanpot before, but few if any were like this one. Freshman Kevin Roy scored three goals against Boston University in last week’s opener from a total distance of maybe 20 feet, batting in the second and third periods as if waving a wand.
“He’s always been able to do that,” testified brother Derick Roy, his Northeastern teammate who has witnessed Kevin’s magic tricks since they were playing in the basement as kids.
The difference this time was that the younger sibling put on his sleight-of-hand show in his TD Garden debut against a Terrier team that had beaten the Huskies in 15 straight Beanpot games since 1988, and he put NU in a position to win the silver ovenware for the first time in a quarter-century.
“I was out there trying to help my team and it ended up being three goals, but the important part is that we’re in the championship game,” said Roy, whose teammates take on three-time defending champion Boston College for the title at 7:30 p.m. Monday.
“That’s what makes it so special, because if I had a hat trick and we would have lost, it would have been a disappointment. It’s been 25 years, so it was awesome proving people wrong. No one really saw us being in that championship game.”
That’s one reason why the Roy freres, who hail from Lac-Beauport, Quebec, decommitted from Brown last summer and opted for Huntington Avenue.
“It was definitely a factor,” said Kevin. “The excitement around Hockey East and the Beanpot sure plays a big role in the decision for someone coming from junior hockey. You want to be part of those games. You want to be part of those programs.”
While Derick is serving his goaltending apprenticeship behind a pair of seniors, including four-year starter Chris Rawlings, Kevin has ensconced himself as the left wing alongside senior Garrett Vermeersch and captain Vinny Saponari on the Huskies’ first line and already has contributed 15 goals and as many assists, the most of any rookie in the country.
“His offensive instincts and sense around the net are at a pro level,” said coach Jim Madigan. “He’s slippery and elusive and he creates his shot better than most in college hockey.”
A million moves
Roy became a master of time and space by necessity. Though he stands 5 feet 10 inches and weighs 170 pounds, he was undersized when he was younger.
“At 15, I started growing,” Roy said. “Before that, I was a lot smaller than everyone. They’d see me and say, ‘This guy’s not going to go anywhere, he’s like 4 feet 5.’ That was the comment I got everywhere I went when I was younger.
“To have success, I had to be smarter, to make space for myself and find it. I was trying to go where no one was.”
Though Wayne Gretzky was retiring by the time Roy was lacing up, The Great One was his model. The important thing, his father told him, was not to be where the puck was, but where you thought it was going to be.
“The way Kevin’s mind works, he’s already there,” observed Madigan. “He’s a step ahead. He sees it three seconds before the play actually happens. That’s a skill set that very few people have.”
Nor do they have Roy’s uncanny dangling ability with the puck that was on display six years ago at a high school skills competition in Maine where Roy pulled out an assortment of did-he-just-do-that? moves from his bag of tricks that became an instant YouTube sensation.
“Just so everybody knows, this youngster is 13 years old,” the announcer declared as Roy zipped the puck back and forth, up and down and side to side before flipping it past the goalie.
Roy had been fiddling around with shootout moves for several years by then.
“I have a lot of creativity and I just tried some new things that I saw on the Internet,” he said. “I saw [Sidney] Crosby, I saw the Michigan guy who did it. I tried to make my own moves around it.
“It was just creativity and downtime on the ice. It’s really hard to do those moves in a game, but it’s proving that you can do that kind of stuff, that you have the ability to create something out of nothing.”
His padded brother, who was on the receiving end of the experiments, still finds himself trying to thwart them.
“Some of those moves I can predict, but it’s still pretty hard to know what he’s going to do even though I know he’s going to make a move, which makes his big brother mad,” said Derick. “He’s a threat to every goalie, brother or not. He’s a nightmare.
“I’m glad I play with him and not against him.”
A junior sensation
They were teammates in youth hockey, then at Academie Saint-Louis in Quebec City. But they chose different New England prep schools, with Derick opting for St. Paul’s in Concord, N.H., and Kevin for Deerfield in Western Massachusetts where schoolmates in “Roy’s Renegades” jerseys cheered him on. That was the first indication that they’d be college-bound.
“Hockey is a big part of our family,” said Derick, “but education is a lot more important.”
After a couple of years at Deerfield, Kevin signed on with the Lincoln Stars of the USHL, the Midwest-based Tier 1 junior circuit, and set the league on fire last season, establishing records for goals and points that prompted the Hall of Fame in Toronto to request his gloves.
“I’d seen the YouTube video before I met him,” said Colton Saucerman, his NU classmate and Stars teammate. “We went to camp during the summer and he was on the team. Someone said, ‘That’s the 13-year-old Canadian hockey player.’ I said, ‘No way, it’s not.’
“Fifty-four goals and 104 points later, it was the same 13-year-old Canadian.”
The Anaheim Ducks plucked him in the fourth round of last year’s draft, the 97th player overall, and Roy could have taken the shorter route to the NHL by signing with the Quebec Remparts.
“There’s a tremendous amount of pressure because the Quebec major junior league does not like to lose its players to college hockey and there’s a lot of incentives that they can provide both to the player and the family,” said Madigan, who grew up in Montreal.
College offered lifetime benefits, though, so the brothers committed to Brown.
“Kevin said if we ever have the opportunity to play Division 1 hockey, we have to be together,” Derick said.
On second thought, Northeastern seemed to offer a better fit — “a perfect balance between hockey and education,” Kevin reckoned.
So they signed on as teammates and roommates in the Hub, and Kevin made his usual sudden impact, scoring the winning goals in the first two games against Merrimack and BC. Later, he set up Cody Ferriero’s four goals at Harvard and scored one himself.
In his two dozen games as a Husky, Roy has played with seven line combinations with equanimity.
“He has the mind-set that as long as people play the game and think the game like him, then he’s going to play with anyone,” said Madigan. “And he’ll make that line better.”
His linemates don’t have to guess where Roy will be — his instincts draw him to the net — and they know he’ll likely pull a YouTube move to flick on the red light.
“It’s a thing you don’t think will translate to game play,” mused Saponari, “but you see him play and he can still pull some of that creative stuff.”
The trick against the Terriers was vintage Roy. He scored the first goal by walking in and slipping the puck through a thicket of legs. The second came after BU’s Ben Rosen unwisely passed in front of an empty net and a splay-legged Roy knocked the puck in. The third was a quick-draw swat of an errant clear by BU’s Garrett Noonan.
“That’s typical Kevin,” said Saponari. “We see that every day in practice.”
The question is whether his teammates will see it for three more years. In a day where two-and-through is the plan for the top pro hockey prospects, sticking around to get a diploma seems so 20th century.
“I don’t know about the future,” mused Roy. “I just want to focus on now, win something here and have success here. However many years it will be, I just want to have the best time and the best opportunity while I’m here and cherish every moment.
“Because it’s a great town, great school, great people around here, so I just want to have fun until the next level comes.”