Ryan Mayer

With the 2018 Winter Olympics set to get underway, CBS Local Sports will be profiling five young, up-and-coming, Olympic athletes whose names you will likely hear a lot during the course of the Games. These athletes are our “Rising Stars” for the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in South Korea.

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Team USA hockey looks a little bit different this year. That’s because for the first time since the 1994 Winter Games in Lillehammer, the roster won’t be made up of guys from the NHL ranks. Instead, due to the league’s unwillingness to allow their players to participate in this year’s Games, the team has been made up of amateur players and Americans playing abroad.

Due to that, it would come as no surprise if you haven’t heard the name Troy Terry before. The 20-year-old junior forward for the University of Denver’s name isn’t as widely recognized as some other young Americans like Jack Eichel, Auston Matthews, or Johnny Gaudreau but, after this year’s Winter Games in PyeongChang, it just might be.

The Highland Ranch, Colorado native’s hockey journey really started at age seven, when his team was coached by Colorado Avalanche legend Joe Sakic during the 2004-05 NHL lockout. According to Bleacher Report, Sakic was impressed by Terry’s ability even at that young age.

“One day at the rink, Chuck felt a hand on his shoulder. It was Sakic. “I’ve never seen hands on a kid like that,” he said, pointing to Troy. Says Chuck: “That’s when I knew there was something.” The kid had been playing ice hockey for two years.”

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Terry was teammates in the Team USA development program with Matthews and fellow young NHL star, Charlie McAvoy. He was good enough to be drafted out of high school as a 5th round selection of the Anaheim Ducks in the 2015 Draft, and he was a member of Team USA’s gold-medal winning squad at the 2015 U-18 World Championship, scoring three goals and adding two assists in seven games. Then, he headed to the University of Denver, where he was solid in his freshman season, putting up 22 points in 41 games (9 goals 13 assists).

His true breakout performance however, came the following year during the 2017 World Junior Championship. Terry scored four goals, added three assists in seven games and, against Russia in the semi-finals, had a shootout performance reminiscent of TJ Oshie in 2014.

Terry scored on all three of his shootout attempts, each time going five hole on the Russian net-minder. Then, in the gold medal game against Canada, after three rounds of skaters failed in their attempts to score, Terry stepped up big once again.

That goal gave Team USA the gold medal and Terry’s star has only ascended since then. Following the World Juniors win in January, Terry helped lead Denver to the Frozen Four and their eighth national championship. He led the team in scoring, tallying 45 points (22 goals, 23 assists) and was named to the Frozen Four All-Star team after compiling four assists during the Pioneers two games against Notre Dame and Minnesota-Duluth.

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His 2018 season has continued to impress as he’s tied for second on the team in scoring with 27 points (8 goals 19 assists) and the Pioneers sit atop the NCHC with an 8-4-2 conference record and a 14-6-4 overall mark. With the Games quickly approaching, Terry seems set, along with fellow Team USA youngsters Jordan Greenway, Will Borgen and Ryan Donato to make a mark in the collective national mindset. Team USA has the sixth best odds of winning the gold medal at 10/1 behind Russia, Canada, Sweden, Finland, and the Czech Republic. If Terry can pull off more heroics, his name won’t be soon forgotten.