In his first season as the Golden Rockets’ assistant coach, Jay LaRoy is using the many lessons he learned from his late father as he adjusts to coaching.
LaRoy grew up in Golden and worked his way through the local hockey ranks before eventually playing with the Sicamous Eagles of the KIJHL. A goalie, he was drawn to the position for a couple of reasons.
“The gear looked pretty cool to me when I was little and goalies help the guys out quite a bit and I just wanted to be that guy,” he recalled.
“Dominik Hasek was my huge idol…he was my favourite goalie.”
LaRoy laughs when asked if he attempted to replicate Hasek’s unique, unorthodox style, saying he played a much closer game to that of his current favourite, Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens.
“(My style) was like Price’s. Calm and smooth,” LaRoy said.
As the Rockets were gearing up for their first season under new head coach Jason Stephens, LaRoy was approached by the first year coach to be the team’s assistant at the suggestion of former captain Ian Desrosier.
“Jason called me and asked me if I wanted the position and I gladly accepted it,” LaRoy said.
“It was a pretty big surprise…I wasn’t really sure on taking it considering I’d never coached kids this age before…I just thought about what (my dad) would want me to do and my gut feeling told me to coach, have fun, and give it all I got. So far it’s been a great time and I’m enjoying every moment of it.”
Naturally, LaRoy has played a big part in coaching the goaltenders on the Rockets’ current roster, but he’s also had an increasingly important role to play when it comes to the Rockets’ forwards and defencemen.
“(Jason’s) teaching me a lot of things about being a forward, being a defenseman,” LaRoy said.
Just a year older than many of the players he coaches, LaRoy says it’s important for him to be himself and not try too hard to act older.
Of course, the best lessons that LaRoy has learned came from his father, who passed away earlier this year. Kelly LaRoy coached his son throughout his young hockey career, from the A/B level all the way up to Midget.
“He was always there for the kids. It wasn’t just about hockey, he went the extra mile to help them out, to make sure they could come to practice, make sure they could come to the games on the weekend,” LaRoy said.
Always a supporter of hockey in Golden, Kelly spent a lot of his spare time around the arena. The younger LaRoy has no doubt what he’d be doing if he was still alive.
“He’d probably be our equipment manager or something, he’d be right here doing it all. He could never stay away from the bench or the hockey rink. He loved hockey,” he said.
“I have no doubt in my mind he’d be right here with me, giving me tips, telling me what to do differently and helping me out.”