University of Denver hockey fans have to be conflicted right now.
On one hand, their star forward, Troy Terry, is putting on a show in the 2018 Winter Olympic Games and with three assists on Tuesday (Monday night in the Mile High City) helped advance Team USA into the quarterfinals of the men’s hockey tournament.
On the other hand, the further Terry and Team USA advance in the tournament, the less likely it is that one of their top scorers is back on the ice for the No. 4/3 Pioneers’ massively important showdown with top-ranked St. Cloud State this weekend.
Terry was involved of each of Team USA’s three second-period goals in a 5-1 victory over Slovakia on Tuesday in the qualification round of the Olympic men’s hockey tournament.
The Highlands Ranch, Colo. native helped put the U.S. on the board 1:36 into the second period with an assist on a goal from linemate Ryan Donato. It was the second time the pair has contributed in these 2018 games. Terry and the Harvard star combined on one of the U.S. goals in a 2-1 preliminary round victory over the Slovaks (Donato scored both goals, Terry assisted on one).
Terry again was the helper less than a minute later on the power play after Slovakia sent two men to the box for a goaltender interference and a head/neck check penalty. With the two-man advantage, Terry drew bodies in between the circles to set up James Wisniewski on a beautiful one-timer to double the Americans’ advantage.
At the 13:30 mark of the period Terry again drew Slovakian skaters into his space before delivering a perfect pass to Mark Arcobello in front of the net. Arcobello beat goaltender Jan Laco cleanly and the U.S. had a commanding advantage.
Slovakia answered with a power play goal with just over 3:00 left in the period, punishing the Americans for a slash by Jordan Greenway.
Terry nearly had another assist in sixth minute of the third period, but his teammates were unable to finish. The U.S. had just returned to even strength off a power play when Terry controlled the puck at the near circle and craftily stick-handled the puck back and around the Slovakia net before putting a centering shot on goal with a pair of teammates waiting at the net. Neither could put a stick on the puck, however, and Terry was denied a fourth assist.
Terry had a shot for his own goal two minutes later when he picked up a loose puck just outside the slot. His wrist shot missed just wide of Laco.
The U.S. tacked on an insurance goal at the 9:52 mark. Garrett Roe, a St. Cloud State alum, had the goal. Terry was not involved. But the Americans were not done.
On the power play late in the third, Donato notched his second goal of the game and fourth of the Olympics taking a pass from Wisniewski and carrying it along the near boards and skating past the Slovakian penalty-kill unit to beat Laco short side with a wrist shot.
Team U.S.A. will next face the Czech Republic in the quarterfinals on Wednesday (Tuesday night in the U.S.). The Czechs won Group A and were the No. 2 seed in the bracket. They last played Sunday, a 4-1 victory over Switzerland.
The U.S. had to play in the qualification round after finishing pool play 1-0-1-1 and in third place in Group B behind Slovenia and the Olympic Athletes from Russia.
The Pioneers, meanwhile, head to St. Cloud for a Friday and Saturday series with the NCHC’s top team. Denver, who is currently second in the conference, cannot earn home-ice advantage over the Huskies for the playoffs; however, earning one or more more victories at their rink just two weeks before the NCHC Playoffs begin would be a major mental edge.
Kudos to DU head coach Jim Montgomery for not only allowing Terry to leave for the Olympic tournament, but for actually encouraging his star forward — even if it meant he would be without Terry’s services for an extended time.
Based on how he has played through these Olympic Games, the Pioneers could certainly use Troy Terry in St. Cloud. But based on how he’s played on Tuesday, in particular, they may be without his services for one of the biggest series of the year.
Fortunately, Terry will be back in plenty of time for the NCAA Tournament, which the defending national champion Pioneers appear a lock to be a part of regardless of the outcome in St. Cloud or the NCHC Tournament. Before that time, though, Terry would like to win another, bigger, tournament.