Former Michigan Tech hockey player Matt Roy is in his third year of professional hockey and first full season in the NHL with the Los Angeles Kings. In 61 games this season, Roy has four goals and 13 assists. He earned his first NHL call up in February 2019 and played 25 games at the end of the 2018-19 season, tallying six points with two goals and four assists.
Roy left Michigan Tech after his junior season in the spring of 2017 and continued his education through the University. In December 2019, he completed his bachelor of science in sports and fitness management and received his diploma.
Who did you promise that you would finish your degree?
The first person I promised that I would finish my degree was my mom. She wasn’t going to let me leave school early if I wasn’t going to finish. Talking with Suzanne [Sanregret] and Craig Pellizzaro, who was my advisor, we discussed a plan. I was able to take classes online, and I told Suzanne that I wasn’t going to take anything for granted and pass my classes. I’m very grateful to Suzanne and Craig who helped me get my diploma.
How does it feel to be done with your bachelor’s and what are your plans after hockey?
Receiving my diploma was a great feeling. It was tough doing all the classes online and staying consistent. It was a mental battle. I’m happy to have it done and to have it through Tech is awesome. I’m not sure about plans after hockey. Personal training or owning a gym would be fun, but I have a lot of ideas floating around right now.
Let’s go back to the 2017 WCHA championship. Tell me your memories from that goal by Shane Hanna and that game.
It’s kind of funny because throughout the year Shane would try to go for breakaways in practice, so we always joked about it. I remember Nevs winning a battle on that play and getting me the puck. I looked up and saw Shane breaking through the middle. I tried to give it to him as fast as I could. I followed up behind him and watched him shoot it in. That was still one of my better hockey memories. I think about that a lot and that team. It was fun.
What was the decision like to leave school early?
I was in contact with the Kings throughout the whole season. I knew that they were going to offer me a contract at the end of the season. I just felt that I was ready to take the next step. After our season ended, I met with Suzannne about finishing my degree. That was the biggest thing making sure that was squared away. I knew I was ready to sign. It was the right decision. I obviously missed some experiences with my senior class, but it was something I had to do for my career, and it was the right time.
What was the experience at the outdoor Stadium Series game like?
It was really cool. Just the fact that it was at the Air Force Academy. All of their students were there. There were a couple flyovers with the fighter jets. It was around 25-30 degrees so it wasn’t too cold. The benches were warm. There were a lot of shadows on the ice though, so it was hard to track the puck at times. The overall environment was fun and hard to get used to. The altitude was actually the worst part. We couldn’t breath, so we were taking really short shifts.
You played your first NHL game in Detroit on December 15. What was that like playing in front of so many family and friends?
It was fun. It was kind of weird because there were so many people there to see me. It felt like people were staring at me the whole game. It was cool playing against Detroit. It felt surreal playing against Jonathan Ericsson and Jimmy Howard, guys I grew up watching. The win was nice to sweep the season series against them.
How would you grade our first full season in the NHL?
My strengths have been my positioning and my defensive play. I think my breakouts have been a lot better than when I first started in the league which is a good sign. I’m getting comfortable with the pace and physicality and strength of everybody. I could always work on my offensive game and produce more with more consistency.
What was it like being in LA and at the Staples Center during the Kobe Bryant tributes?
You hear about Kobe passing away and everyone’s saddened by it but actually being here in LA is a different experience. You could see the memorials and see how everyone here was affected by it. We all walked into the game wearing his jersey instead of our suits in our first game after it happened. They played a big tribute video and the memorial outside of Staples Center was huge. It was a saddened energy, and it was pretty crazy to witness it here.
How do you deal with LA traffic on a daily basis?
The traffic is just terrible here. I would love to be in Houghton traffic. All the guys live in Manhattan Beach and Hermosa Beach which is 10 minutes from the practice facility in El Segundo. We usually carpool to games at the Staples Center and battle traffic to get there. It takes an hour with traffic on the way up there, and it’s usually a quick 25-30 minutes on the way home.
What made Joe Shawhan a good coach for you?
Joe was always easy to talk to and approachable. He was really honest with me even when I didn’t always like what he had to say. Players need to hear that stuff. We did a lot of video together, and he’s just a guy you can go to when you need him. He helped me a lot.
Roy signed a two-year extension with the Kings in July 2019. He has also played 102 games in the AHL with the Ontario Reign, scoring 12 goals and adding 35 assists.
Roy, a native of Canton, Michigan played 115 games over three seasons (2014-17) with the Huskies, recording 55 points on 12 goals and 43 assists before signing after his junior season on March 27, 2017. Roy was Tech's team leader in assists with 21 as a junior and had the assist on the game-winning goal six times. He was a two-time All-WCHA selection.