First Nations goalie aims to backstop Canada at World University Games

First Nations goalie aims to backstop Canada at World University Games

Roddy Ross, a member of the Canoe Lake Cree First Nation and a 22-year-old U of S goaltender, has been named to the Canada men’s ice hockey team, which will compete in the World University Games next month.

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Despite having a distinguished junior career and being a National Hockey League draft pick, Roddy Ross still tries to make others aware of his skills.

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And that’s why Ross, a member of the Canoe Lake Cree First Nation in Saskatchewan, is excited about an opportunity presented to him next month.

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Ross, a 22-year-old goaltender, has been named to the Canada men’s ice hockey team that will compete in the World University Games to be held January 11-22 in Lake Placid, NY

For Ross, who is in his second season with the University of Saskatchewan Huskies, the games will be his first time representing Canada in an international tournament.

The men’s ice hockey competition at the Games will consist of 12 clubs. The event is also expected to attract numerous scouts from various professional franchises.

Ross was drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. Although he attended two training camps with the Flyers, he was never offered a professional contract by the organization.

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After using up his junior eligibility, Ross decided to continue honing his skills in the ranks of the Canadian university. And he’s hoping his play at the Lake Placid tournament will catch the eye of some professional scouts.

“I think it’ll help a bunch,” he said. “It’s always great to go to a tournament like this. If I keep doing my thing there will always be a chance to get attention.”

Ross will fly to Ottawa on January 8th to meet the rest of his Canadian teammates. The only person he currently knows will be playing at Lake Placid is Jared Dmytriw, who is also struggling for the Huskies.

After banding together as a team in the nation’s capital, the Canadian squad heads to the world tournament.

Canada’s first game is scheduled for January 12 against Ukraine. Ross and his teammates will also play round-robin matches against Sweden (January 13), Japan (January 15), Latvia (January 17) and the Czech Republic (January 19).

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Also participating will be Hungary, Slovakia, the United States, the United Kingdom, South Korea and Kazakhstan.

After the round-robin action, the top two finishers from each pool advance to the semi-finals.

The Canadian men’s team traditionally performs well at the World University Games. It has finished on the podium 16 of the 17 times that the winter version of the Games has been played.

Canada won the bronze medal at the last Games, held in Russia in 2019.

Ross expects the Canadians to be successful in Lake Placid as well.

“I think we’re a good team,” he said. “We have a solid group of guys. If we do our thing, I think we’ll be fine.”

Nobody has to be afraid to play against the defending champion from Russia.

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“I know the Russians are usually pretty strong, but they’re not coming this year,” Ross said.

That’s because the Council of the International Ice Hockey Federation suspended Russia from all international events until further notice last February because of its military aggression in Ukraine.

Ross had started to make a name for himself in the 2018/19 season. He began this campaign with the Camrose Kodiaks, members of the Alberta Junior Hockey League.

Mid-season, however, he was signed by the Seattle Thunderbirds to the higher-profile Western Hockey League.

Ross had many early successes with the Thunderbirds, posting a 16-5-3 record and a 2.76 clean sheet average in 25 regular-season games.

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Ross became Seattle’s No. 1 goaltender the following season, and he undertook the majority of the team’s net supervision duties, appearing in 49 games.

Ross returned to his home province for his final junior season when the Thunderbirds traded his playing rights to the Regina Pats. But because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the WHL had a truncated schedule during the 2020-21 season and Ross only played 16 games.

After that season, Ross went to the University of Saskatchewan.

“That was something that interested me,” he said. “And I had a family that played at school.”

Ross’ cousin Craig McCallum campaigned for the Huskies from 2010 to 2015.

“I just asked him a few questions,” Ross said. “Nothing specific I was looking for. But I just wanted to ask him about his time there.”

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Ross is a second year arts and sciences student at the university. He has yet to declare a major.

And since he’s still aspiring to play professional hockey, he’s not sure how much longer he’ll stay at varsity. If a decent pro offer came along, chances are he’d take it.

“I don’t know,” Ross said, if he plans to continue his education and play for the Huskies. “But it would be great to make (a degree) out of it.”

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