Roy’s Focus Impacts ORR Hockey Team

            “Boom!” the semisonic sound filled the Travis Roy Rink at Tabor Academy, not from the slapshot fired by the Bishop Stang player but when the sizzling puck was kicked away by goaltender Tucker Roy.

            His snow-white goalie pads are only a few weeks old but already bear the black scuff marks of many scoring attempts denied.

            A sophomore goaltender with an aggressive style of play, Roy has a 2.60 goals-against average, a .918 save percentage and three shutouts. But of greater value is a pure kind of motivation to the current hockey season that, thanks to his and his teammates’ performance, will not end with Tuesday’s schedule-completing victory over Apponequet.

            The 10-8-1 record the Bulldogs took into Tuesday’s regular-season finale was already good enough to clinch a postseason berth and render that match a playoff tune-up for the MIAA Division 4 state tournament.

            A 16-year-old Rochester resident, Roy has been around the Old Rochester Regional/Fairhaven coop hockey team for a few years now. He practiced with the Bulldogs as an eighth grader, made the team as a freshman and felt strongly that they could improve on their .500 records during those years. He wanted to be part of a team-wide surge.

            “I wanted to build on that and go over the hump that we were stuck at,” said Roy. “We also wanted to beat Dartmouth and (Bishop) Stang because those are the rivals that we focus on. It was just real big for us to start off like that.”

            Those back-to-back wins over the Indians and the Spartans set the tone for a bounce-back season for the Bulldogs, who last chased glory in 2017 when they were led by Chase Cunningham, Sam Henrie, Landon Goguen, Noah Strawn and the Labonte’s to the Division 3 state final at TD Garden where they lost to eventual champion Shrewsbury.

            The 2023-24 Bulldogs have a lot of experience to gain before matching their big-brother Bulldogs, but hockey teams are typically built from the net on out, and head coach Zach Ledogar thinks Roy is among the top high school goalies in southeastern Massachusetts.

            A young man but an experienced delegator, Ledogar leaves the goalie whispering to his assistant Patrick Aalto, a UMass Dartmouth sophomore who has been instructing young puck stoppers for several years.

            “This is my first year working with Old Rochester, and I notice right away when I step on the ice with Tucker and Paddy (Carrier, the backup goalie), they’re both very focused, but Tucker especially is very focused, very driven,” said Aalto, a Barnstable native who played his varsity hockey at Cushing Academy. “You can tell each day (Roy) gets on the ice, he wants to get better, he wants to learn.

            “He can be a little quiet, which is a great trait to have for a goaltender. He loves stopping pucks and, at the same time, he plays with a little bit of fire, a little bit of confidence, especially having settled into the (starting) job. When he’s in practice, a little bit of that fire comes out because he wants to be the best, he wants to stop every puck.”

            Not being especially big at 5-foot-8, Roy works regularly on his movement and can often be found in the weight room, where young athletes learn that strength leads to balance.

            Aalto is especially impressed with Roy’s mental approach to his role on the team and his ability within a highly competitive and sometimes chaotic and emotional environment to remain focused on the elements within his control.

            “He does that very well already,” said Aalto. “As much as there are so many things that are physical that go into it as a goaltender, a lot of it really is mental. … By the time you get to those higher levels, every single guy can stop the puck, and it’s about who’s stronger mentally because that’s going to be the foundation of the team.”

            His choice of 13 for a sweater number is odd for a goalie, but it goes back several years from watching his cousins, Bishop Stang defensemen Jack and Ryan Martin, wear the number when they played their high school hockey.

            “I used to go to a lot of their games, I always wore (13) growing up,” Roy said, having been part of a rotation taking turns at goalie at ages seven and eight in short-rink, 3-on-3 hockey with the Hetland Panthers. His mother was in charge of getting the players their game sweaters. By age 10, Roy knew he wanted to be a goalie.

            Last year, ORR/Fairhaven didn’t have a number-13 sweater so Roy wore 1; this year they got new uniforms and he pounced.

            With hockey permeating his extended family history, playing the sport was an inevitability for Roy, who skated at Hetland (New Bedford) but also with the Gladiators. In Grade 5, he played with a club based at Bridgewater Ice Arena.

            “The first year we weren’t great and didn’t win a game, but I was getting a lot of shots,” said Roy, whose skills sharpened some more over the next two summers at Norwell-based MassCrease Goaltending School. “That’s helped me too.”

            Roy also plays football and lacrosse. His sixth-grade brother Henry is also a hockey goalie who plays baseball and football. Their freshman sister Elsie plays field hockey and lacrosse.

            The blood lines for hockey run thick through the south coast, and it’s not uncommon for many players who grew up in the same youth-hockey associations facing off against one another in emotionally fueled high school games.

            Traditionally competing in Division 3, the Bulldogs went out in the opening round of the state tournament in both of the last two years. Heading into the final weekend of the 2023-24 regular season, ORR/Fairhaven was ranked 11th in Division 4.

            The Bulldogs have also earned a reputation of putting the puck in the net, led by center Caleb Bousquet’s 13 goals and 17 assists for 30 points in 17 games this season. He and Connor Galligan (8-22-30 in 16GP) ranked third and fourth respectively in MIAA Division 4 scoring and are 18th and 21st statewide.

            “We’re obviously focused in practice. … We’ve been doing more competitive drills … and everyone’s, like, locked in,” said Roy. “We all talk to each other, even in our group chat. We’re all building up each other and motivating each other. We think we’re ready, and we want to go far.”

By Mick Colageo

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