REGINA -- After a difficult start to the season, Pats’ goalie and NHL draft choice Roddy Ross has settled into the crease, earning his first two wins of the season back-to-back.

“Getting those two big wins back to back was really huge not only for me, but for our guys,” Ross said on Wednesday.

The 20-year-old started with season with five straight losses. Pats’ head coach Dave Struch said the team expected more success, but noted a young lineup in front of Ross.

“We’re working hard defensively but we made a lot of mistakes that didn’t help Roddy out either,” Struch said.

Following their loss 8-3 loss to Winnipeg, Struch elected to give Ross some time off.

“The five days that he wasn’t playing games, he worked so hard in practice and he got rewarded for it tonight,” Struch said, referencing the Pats’ 9-4 win against the Swift Current Broncos and Ross’s first win of the season.

Ross followed it up with his best performance of the season, stopping 28 shots and posting a 0.933 save percentage, helping Regina beat Moose Jaw 3-2 in overtime.

“I didn’t have the best start as I could have and I feel like I felt a lot better out there,” Ross noted.

Between 2018-2020, Ross stopped more than 90 per cent of the shots he faced with the Seattle Thunderbirds. He was rewarded in the 2019 NHL draft and was selected in the 6th round, 169th overall by the Philadelphia Flyers.

“There’s no words when it comes to telling about that day, it’s really exciting,” Ross said.

The goalie grew up on the Canoe Lake First Nation, near Île-à-la-Crosse.

“There’s a lot [of players] that are really talented but they don’t end up going anywhere,” Ross noted.

It’s been 68 years since Fred Sasakamoose became the first Indigenous player to compete in an NHL game. However, Ross knows there are still barriers.

“It’s a tough world out there. When it comes to everything, it’s a huge mental battle, it’s a huge battle from the start,” Ross said.

To pursue hockey, Ross’s family moved to Lloydminster so he could play with the U15 Blazers, then the U16 Rage. He then played Junior B with the Onion Lake Border Chiefs and was then recruited to play Major AAA with the Tisdale Trojans.

Ross went undrafted in the WHL bantam draft, but was picked up by Seattle after playing 22 games with the Camrose Kodiaks in the AJHL.

Ross is close with former Thunderbird and Oilers defenseman, Ethan Bear. Both are Cree, and Ross even lived with Bear’s family last summer in Saskatoon.

“He came down there for a couple weeks and we trained together a little bit and we know each other, we keep in contact,” Ross said.

In his final WHL season, Ross now has one month left before he hopes to make a permanent jump and join Bear in the pros.

“I guess you could say there’s a little pressure but in the end you still got to make sure you’re doing your job whether there’s pressure or not,” Ross said.

“He’s been committed to these guys, he’s committed to the team, he’s a real professional,” Struch said. ‘We love being around him everyday.”