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Nervous Roy Impresses Again rn

Story courtesy of the Buffalo News

 

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Written by: Amy Moritz

 

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TORONTO – The jitters jolted Derek Roy at the beginning of the game. rThey would for anyone who grew up five hours from Toronto and was standing on the ice for the national anthem in Toronto’s Air Canada Centre.

 

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But for Roy, the jitters ran deeper than just a few chills during “Oh Canada.”

 

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The only junior player in the Buffalo Sabres’ lineup for Wednesday’s preseason game with the Maple Leafs, the 19-year-old center felt the weight of his first NHL start, even if the contest didn’t count.

 

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“I felt jittery because I was starting tonight,” Roy said after the Sabres and Leafs tied, 3-3. “I felt I had to set the tone and set the pace of the game. I thought I had a good first shift, so I thought I played well after that.”

 

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He’s not the only one.

 

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Roy, the Sabres’ second-round draft choice in 2001, has been a surprise during training camp. Last season, he stuck around for just the first five days of camp before returning to his junior team in Kitchener.

 

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This season, he’s played in all three preseason games with one goal. Wednesday, he won five of the six faceoffs he took.

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“He’s a tough guy not to like,” Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. “He’s strong on the puck, he likes to handle it. There were a lot of things to like in the game about Derek.”

 

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Roy has compiled some impressive numbers during his Ontario Hockey League career in Kitchener. In 2000, he was the league’s Rookie of the Year. Last season, he scored 43 goals with 46 assists in 62 games.

 

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“I’ve been surprised by the chances that they’re giving me, and they’re giving me so many chances that I have to make the most of them,” Roy said. “I’ve got to go out there every shift and give it my all or it will be my last shift. I’m just trying to stay as long as I can here.

 

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“I’ve been playing good defense. I guess they like that. I’m a good defensive player and I contribute a little offensively. I try to create some chances but mainly it’s my defense. If I couldn’t play defense I don’t think they’d keep me around.”

 

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Because of his age, Roy isn’t eligible to be sent down to Rochester for some minor-league experience and seasoning.

 

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If the Sabres don’t sign him for their roster this season, it’s back to juniors. Although it’s unlikely Roy will stay in Buffalo, Ruff would not rule out keeping him while waiting to see what happens with the injured Maxim Afinogenov and holdout Vaclav Varada.

 

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“It’s a really big step down, but I think I can adjust and handle it,” Roy said. “I just need to play my own game if I do get sent down. . . . I think for keeping me around this long and having me play three exhibition games that they like me or they like what they see or maybe they’re just trying to get me developed for next year.”

 

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Buffalo scored two goals with an extra attacker in the last 1:24 of the third period to salvage a tie in front of 18,508 spectators.

 

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Tim Connolly scored with 1:24 left and Miroslav Satan added a goal with 35.7 seconds left.

 

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Rhett Warrener opened the scoring in the second period, while all three of the Leafs’ goals came in the second half of the third – one from Alyn McCauley and two from Tom Fitzgerald.

 

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Friday’s rematch in HSBC Arena already may have an air of bad blood. With 6:53 left in the third period, Rob Ray and Andrew Peters started fighting with Toronto forward Doug Doull. Peters, who earlier in the game tried to lure Tie Domi into a fight, saluted the booing crowd on his way off the ice with a double minor for roughing and a game misconduct.

 

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Ray and Doull got five minutes for fighting and a 10-minute misconduct.

 

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Ryan Bonni, who ended up tangled with Peters during the fracas, was slapped with a roughing minor.

 

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