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Photo: Micheline V/Rochester Americans

Roy on a roll as Checkers get off to quick start

by Nicholas Niedzielski | AHL On The Beat

After turning in a solid rookie campaign, Nicolas Roy wasted no time in ratcheting up his play for year two.

Roy took center stage in the Charlotte Checkers’ two season-opening victories against Rochester, logging two goals and an assist each night while factoring into the team’s strong special teams showing.

“I was very impressed with Nic,” said Checkers head coach Mike Vellucci after the weekend. “I think that’s the first time I’ve ever seen a five-on-three shorthanded goal. He was great in front of the net on the power play.”

That offensive outburst was more than enough to earn Roy the AHL’s Player of the Week award, an honor the young forward was quick to credit the strong play of those around him for, especially his linemates Janne Kuokkanen and Julien Gauthier.

“I think my line had really good confidence and chemistry,” said Roy. “We played together last year so we know each other and we made good plays.”

A fourth-round selection in 2015, Roy was an elite-level scorer in junior, leading the QMJHL in goals in 2015-16. As a rookie with the Checkers, Roy was an impact player and his 38 points were nothing to scoff at, but there was a sense he could produce more. His hot start shows that may be the case.

“I know Nic is a scorer, I know he’s a playmaker,” said Vellucci. “Sometimes he puts too much pressure on himself. I talked to him about that last year. This year I think he’s more relaxed and comfortable with his teammates and his surroundings. That year under his belt is big.”

Roy’s strong offensive start mirrors that of Warren Foegele from a year ago, when the rookie forward similarly captured the league’s first Player of the Week award of the season. That sparked what would become a historically productive campaign for Foegele, who would go on to set the franchise record for most goals by a rookie. Now, with the Checkers missing several key pieces up front from a year ago, Roy could very well be on the same path.

“It was really important to set the tone with those first two games,” said Roy. “I’ve proven in the past that I can put up points and be offensive. I take this as an opportunity.”

If Roy can keep those points rolling in, it’s only a matter of time before people start taking notice.

“You want to do your best and make sure that you’re the name that gets called up when something happens in Carolina and they call me and want to know who’s playing the best,” said Vellucci.