Philippe Roy is built like a fire hydrant and skates like a hook-and-ladder speeding to a three-alarm blaze.
The Augusta Lynx defenseman also plays hockey like there's a fire burning inside him, which has his new teammates wondering why the Johnstown Chiefs were so quick to trade him last week.
"It very well could be the best of all the trades we've made," said Lynx coach David Wilkie, who acquired Roy for a player to be named after the season. "He's a No. 1 defenseman in my eyes. Any time you can add a real good defenseman and not have to give somebody up immediately, you've got to try and do it."
Roy, a 5-foot-9, 200-pounder from St. Leonard, Quebec, posted strong numbers in Johnstown this season despite a limited role. He tallied 11 goals and 19 assists in 56 games - impressive considering he logged less than 20 minutes of ice time per game.
In his first three games with the Lynx, Roy has seen around 20-25 minutes a game with a spot on the first power-play unit.
Wilkie's confidence in the 26-year-old defenseman paid immediate dividends - Roy scored three goals and added an assist while playing solid in his own end.
"The extra ice time has been good for me, and the smaller ice surface has helped me, as well," Roy said. "I was a role player in Johnstown. Wilkie gave me the green light here to get the puck and try and create things. It's worked out well so far."
Roy's presence has also made Augusta's other defensemen better, Wilkie said.
"He's elevated the play of the other guys," Wilkie said. "Philippe takes the pressure off those guys. He also gives us a lot more depth and he's very good at the top of the power play. For the first time all year, we feel we have six solid defensemen we can roll."
The only question surrounding Roy is whether he will be back in the East Coast Hockey League next season, which Wilkie said is the main reason why Johnstown was willing to trade him.
Roy nearly took an offer last summer to play this season in Europe, and he told Chiefs coach Toby O'Brien he would definitely head overseas in 2003-04.
"If you would've asked me that before the trade to Augusta, I would've said I was going overseas for sure," Roy said. "Now that I'm here, things have changes. I like the team and all the guys and I really like the coaches. I can't give an answer now for sure, but I know I like playing here."
For now, the Lynx know they must focus only on the present. Augusta takes on the Florida Everblades on the road tonight and Saturday, and begin the weekend trailing the Greenville Grrrowl by five points for the fifth and final playoff spot in the Southeast Division.
"This is a very important weekend for us," Roy said. "It's exciting for me to be involved in a playoff race."
Reach Rob Mueller at (706) 823-3425.
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