After making waves on the international stage and lifting up the Penrose Cup at the end of this past season, Troy Terry will be looking to take the next step in his junior year with the Denver Pioneers.
As children, almost every player has dreams play for their local teams. It was no different for Terry, who grew up playing within the Littleton hockey program before moving on to the Colorado Thunderbirds — all while keeping his eyes focused on the Pioneers.
“Growing up, I actually had season tickets for DU, and it was always a dream of mine to play for them. When I was around the age of 15, Colorado College had reached out to me about playing for them — DU must have caught on about this; they wanted to recruit me not long after.”
An NHL future awaits Terry after being drafted by the Anaheim Ducks in the 5th round (148th overall) of the 2015 draft, but that can wait — the Colorado native is looking to add another NCAA championship crown to his résumé; the Pioneers are the early title favorites once again this season. “I think it’s an honor to be considered as the favorites to repeat, but it’s also some added pressure for the team,” Terry said. Right now, we’re just focused on going day-by-day; we still have a long season ahead of us.”
In case Terry’s national championship and draft status didn’t impress, his success on the international stage — winning two gold medals with the USA Under-18 and Under-20 national teams — certainly should. Earlier this year, Terry was able to make a name for himself in the semi-finals of the 2017 World Junior Championships, when he scored three shootout goals, advancing Team USA into the championship round against Team Canada, where the Americans would ultimately win the gold medal in dramatic fashion.
Now one of the team’s leaders, Terry will be taking some of the team’s younger players under his wing. “I think that it’s an exciting opportunity to be able to teach some of these younger players about how to approach their first season heading into the NCAA, and I think that they’re adjusting to that fairly well.”
One of those players is Finnish freshman, Jaako Heikkinen, who is making the transition from the top Finnish junior league to the NCAA — a not-so-simple task. However, Terry isn’t alone in the role; fellow-Finn Henrik Borgstrom will also be helping out. “I haven’t really helped him that much,” Borgstrom demurred. “I feel like he’s a really smart kid, and I’ve known him since I was seven years old. He is a friend of mine, and of course, I can give him some advice whenever needed.”
With the Colorado Eagles due to make their move to the AHL next season, hometown kids are excited about the opportunity this will present for the state of Colorado — Terry’s one of them. “I went to a couple of Eagles games when I was younger, and I always highly enjoyed their games. I think that the move up to the AHL is huge for the state of Colorado, and is fantastic for the close hockey community there [in Loveland], as well as for the state of Colorado and the Colorado Avalanche.”
After spending plenty of time playing with Pioneer alum and New Jersey Devils defenseman Will Butcher, Terry has been able to keep in touch with him; gaining valuable advice from the former Pioneers captain. “One of the main pieces of advice that he has given to us, as we head towards the start of our careers in the NHL, is just to remain composed and take it game by game.”
As the Pioneers continue to receive plenty of deserved hype, Terry and his teammates are completely focused and aware of the long season ahead of them — a season that can re-write Pioneers history once again.