Falcons a perfect fit for Roach
Jacob Roach managed to turn a negative into a positive.
The 17-year-old Brooklin native was pretty much fed up with hockey when he was cut by the Sudbury Wolves this season and planned to turn his attention to school full time.
Roach, who was the Wolves’ eighth-round pick in 2016, was the final cut of camp.
“It was pretty tough,” Roach said. “At that point I was done with hockey. It was my last chance so I was thinking to focus on school.
“That was my third camp. Every year they said, ‘you’re so close, you’re so close’ and every year I went back. I was the only kid from my draft year there and I expected for good things to come out of it, but once I got there it was kind of heartbreaking to know it was another year gone past. The years are running out for me to play in the OHL because of my age.”
Enter St. Catharines Falcons coach/general manager Frank Girhiny, who heard about Roach’s situation and the fact he was attending Brock to major in sport management.
“Frank reached out to me with the opportunity to play hockey and go to university, so it fit that way,” Roach said. “It’s been good so far. I’m really enjoying it. It’s a great league and best of both worlds.
“St. Catharines has really been bringing the hockey back into me.”
Girhiny appreciates what Roach brings to the Falcons.
“He’s a really good player. His hockey IQ is off the charts,” Girhiny said. “The knock on him maybe is his skating but in this league he’s fine. He sees the ice very well and he has a good shot.
“He’s will be on the top line. He’ll be on the ice in key situations and face-offs and on the power-play unit.”
Roach, who has two goals and two assists in four games, has high expectations this season.
“I expect to be pretty much be a force in this league,” he said confidently. “I expect good things. Size and speed are what I usually have in my game and I’m not afraid to get into the dirty areas.
“I expect to put up points and make an impact and play in key situations.”
Roach’s arrival came at a crucial point for the Falcons who lost forward Zach Lawrence to Tier 2 during training camp.
“When a door closes, hopefully one opens,” Girhiny said. “We lost Zach Lawrence and that left a big hole and being able to get Roach has filled in that spot.
“We take advantage of the fact Brock is there and we run a good program. It was an easy sell.”
Girhiny also loves the fact Roach has two more years of junior eligibility.
“We always build year to year, but next season we have so many guys who are attending Brock who are coming back,” Girhiny said. “It’s all about development so that bodes well for our team.”
The Falcons, who are off to an uncharacteristically slow start at 1-3, are home to Welland Friday.
“We know it’s process, especially with how our team was decimated at training camp losing three D,” Girhiny said. “They have to get acclimated to the league and to what we want out of them. Once they get there, they will be fun to watch.
“Worse case scenario, we are a second- or third-place team.”
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