Troy Terry was hooked on hockey after the first game he witnessed.
It was a pretty intense National Hockey League game featuring the Detroit Red Wings against the Colorado Avalanche.
“Me and my dad watched sports,” he explained. “When I watched my first hockey game, I don't what it was, I knew right away. When I was real young I would look through programs and say everybody on the team. I could name every NHL team. I was just really into hockey right away.”
Terry, 16, is now one of the elite hockey players in the country.
The Highlands Ranch product who attended Rock Canyon High School as a freshman and sophomore has been chosen to play on the U.S. Under-18 Select team that will participate in the 2014 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup Aug. 11-16 in Breclav, Czech Republic and Piestany, Slovakia.
Terry, the first player to verbally commit to the 2016 University of Denver hockey recruiting class, was previously on the U.S. Under-17 Select team and managed to score twice and dish out three assists in four games as the Americans won the 2013 Five Nations Tournament in Trnava, Slovakia.
Next season Terry will live with a billet family in Michigan as a member of the National Team Development Program Under-18 team and will attend Ann Arbor Pioneer High School.
The NTDP is a full-time development program with the goal of preparing student-athletes under the age of 18 for participation on U.S. National Teams and success in their future hockey careers. The Under-18 team's schedule includes games against NCAA Division I and III opponents, contests against United States Hockey League teams and participation in three international tournaments.
“I had an idea that I had a good shot,” Terry said. “I knew I was in the mix to make it but I didn't know I was going to make it.
“Going to this program definitely helps my chances of getting drafted into the NHL. I just hope it will develop me as a player more, because every day I'm practicing and playing with the top level kids in the country. This is just a huge development year to keep bettering myself as a hockey player.”
The NDTP Under-18 team has games scheduled Dec. 27 and 28 against Colorado College at World Arena in Colorado Springs.
Terry started playing ice hockey as a 7-year-old after a year of roller hockey. He played six seasons with the Colorado Thunderbirds moving up through their U12, U13, U14 and U16 divisions. He tallied 30 goals and 60 assists in two seasons with the U16 Thunderbirds.
“Troy is a tremendously skilled and an extremely intelligent hockey player,” said Thunderbirds' Director of Hockey Operations and U16 coach Angelo Ricci. “He is a young man that has not even come close to reaching his potential as a player. He has tremendous upside and once his body fully develops, he is going to be a very special hockey player.
“The Colorado Thunderbirds strive to prepare and produce young athletes that are ready to take the next step in their careers. Troy is a fine example of the type of player that the Thunderbirds program works to develop and move to the next level. DU is getting a very special young man with a tremendous upside.”
Terry, 5-foot-11, 165 pounds, said he has enjoyed taking the step into international competition because it fits his style of play.
“International hockey is different,” he said. “The rinks are bigger and the European teams play a more skilled game with less hitting. They don't like to be hit very much and that's kind of our game plan when we go. Some of the players hit but they are all pretty much more finesse, skill players.
“I like to play more like the European style because I'm a more skilled, finesse type player. I'm not a big hitter. The play definitely benefits me because it's skill-type hockey.”
As he prepares for the change of schools, Terry admits that the demands of being a top tier hockey player and getting an education can be a challenge.
“It definitely makes school much harder,” said Terry. “I definitely notice it when the season ends and I just have school, school comes 10 times easier. It's just something you have to learn to live with.”
He hopes his hard work on and off the ice will translate into success down the road and he hopes to someday find his name in one of those programs he used to scrutinize as a youngster.
“I'm committed to Denver University so obviously I want to make it to DU, get an education and play hockey,” said Terry. “My ultimate goal is to play professional hockey.”