Photo courtesy of Minas Panagiotakis
For the last time in two and a half weeks, Olympic-bound Troy Terry participated a normal Tuesday, taking the ice to practice at Magness Arena for the University of Denver Pioneers. This familiar routine is about to undergo a drastic and rapid change as the Denver, Colo. native departs for the 2018 Winter Olympics hosted in PyeongChang, South Korea. Terry will temporarily exchange DU’s Crimson and Gold for the United States’ Red, White, and Blue.
Terry has represented Team USA as a member of the USA Hockey’s National U18 in 2014-15 and suited up during for the World Junior Championship in 2016-17, but never suited up for his country at this magnitude. By Friday, Feb. 9 morning, Terry’s accustomed routine will be substituted for an extraordinary experience most players, let alone juniors in college, will never have the opportunity to compete in.
“It hasn’t seemed real since I got the phone call,” Terry said. “Now it’s all just been a build up. It’s getting closer and I’m just getting more excited.”
During Friday’s morning skate Terry, a right-shot forward, will join a 25-player team. Since the NHL announced the league will not participate in the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, the 2018 Team USA roster consists of skaters from the collegiate level, American Hockey Leaguers and Americans playing professionally abroad in Europe. The 2018 PyeongChang Olympics marks the first time in five-consecutive Winter Olympics that Team USA will be without any active NHL players. However, 15 of the 25 players do have prior NHL experience
“We don’t have much time before,” Terry said. “We already have our lines and our team strategy. That is already established. The goal is just to get there and get some chemistry going on and off the ice. I haven’t even met some of the guys so I’m ready to do that. It’s a short turnaround, but I’m ready to get on the ice and get to know all of them.”
Friday evening, Terry and his teammates will attend the iconic Opening Ceremony.
“It’s something I’ve watched all of my life,” Terry said. “Winter and Summer. It’s a pretty sacred ceremony. It’s a world stage and all of the athletes are going to come together, it’s pretty cool.”
Terry is one of just four collegiate players on the roster. The preparation for competing at the world stage emulates the familiarity of workload for one of his college courses.
“This is almost more than a class,” Terry said. “I’ve had stuff to do like ambassador programs. It just shows; it’s the Olympics, it’s a big stage and there’s a lot that goes into it. Today and tonight [Tuesday, Feb. 6] is for just finalizing everything and getting packed. It’s been a journey leading up to it.”
Terry’s family, including his mother Susan, his father Chuck and his younger brother Trent will also travel to PyeongChang to support the 20-year old who will don the number 23.
While Terry will be missing two conference series for the Pioneers against Colorado College [Feb. 16 and 17] and St. Cloud State [Feb. 23 and 24], he has received unconditional support from his teammates and coaching staff.
“This is just a tremendous opportunity, playing in the Winter Olympics,” DU head coach Jim Montgomery said. “My [two] sons and I, we have Troy Terry t-shirts. Terry #23 on the back. It’s going to make us better in the long-run and it’s an opportunity for others to pick up where he left off.”
Montgomery, a former professional hockey player who played in the NHL and AHL, appreciates the fresh success of his appointed assistant captain.
“I grew up with watching the Troy Terrys of college players in Canada in the US in the Olympics all of the time,” Montgomery said. “It’s nice to see someone go from being an unknown to known.”
Terry’s departure will present a prominent gap in Denver’s dynamic offense. With a 6-foot, 179-pound frame, Terry skates on the top line and is one of Denver’s top-three producers, behind Dylan Gambrell and Henrik Borgström, with 32 points to-date on 11 goals and 21 assists. Attentive to his role on and off the ice for the Pioneers, he recognizes the growth his vacancy provides for his team.
“My absence presents an opportunity for other guys,” Terry said. “It’ll be nice to see some other guys step up and take advantage, I know they will. That’s why we’ve been so good this year is because of my depth.”
Terry and Team USA suit up for their first game against Slovenia on Wednesday, Feb. 14 at 5:10 am MT in the preliminary round. Other preliminary games include Slovakia on Friday, Feb. 16 at 8:10 pm MT and against the Olympic Athletes From Russia on Saturday, Feb. 17 at 5:10 am. Streaming is available at nbcolympics.com.