Troy Terry is currently one of the hottest offensive players in the NHL, and could soon find himself on the U.S. Olympic team in February.
If you ask the Highlands Ranch native and Anaheim Ducks winger, all it took was a switch to his amateur number — and perhaps an indirect assist from Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic — to trigger a change in mindset that led to his league-best 16-game points streak that ended Monday.
Terry wore No. 19 in his Colorado youth days and at the University of Denver in a nod to Sakic, who has his No. 19 retired at Ball Arena. Terry helped lead the Pioneers to the 2017 NCAA championship as a sophomore, and he and his father always admired Sakic — a first-ballot Hall of Famer who was the reason Terry became the first hockey player in his family.
“My dad was a huge fan of Joe, too, and I was able to wear (19) when I was here in college,” Terry said Wednesday from Ball Arena, where the Avs host Anaheim in a pre-Thanksgiving matchup. “Making that switch kind of just felt like a new chapter for me. I felt I had made strides in my pro game and showed flashes. This year I felt I was ready to be an impact player every game and not just every couple games, and just really make that next step.”
Terry said it was important for his family, too. He wore No. 61 in his first three years in the NHL — and not because that number is 19 upside down. The Ducks assigned it to him.
“It’s cool for my dad,” Terry said. “I found out a few days before Father’s Day so I was able to get him a 19 jersey sent it to him.”
It was cool — after his father realized what he had received.
“He opened it upside down and he didn’t really understand why I got him a jersey he already had,” Terry said with a laugh.
The team arrived in Denver late Monday night after a 3-2 loss at Nashville. Terry spent time with family and friends on Tuesday before treating the Ducks’ veterans to dinner downtown.
The top-line right wing for Anaheim (10-6-3), Terry leads the Ducks with 12 goals and 22 points entering Wednesday night. The 24-year-old is tied for sixth in NHL scoring and fifth in goals. And he partially credits his dramatic surge to building a strong mental composure.
“From a physical standpoint, the goal was to get stronger and I’ve done that over the last couple of years, which has obviously helped. But the mentality and mindset of pro hockey, the mental side of it, has always been tough,” he said. “I’ve always been an over-thinker. It’s kind of been a whole mindset shift for me this year. Not that I care less but I worry less. I don’t ride the rollercoasters much anymore.
“I’m confident in my abilities and that I’m going to come to the rink every day and just work hard.”
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Terry comes to Denver tied with Winnipeg’s Kyle Connor as the NHL’s second-highest-scoring American, just a point behind Calgary’s Johnny Gaudreau.
He’s a household name with USA Hockey. He played for the U.S. National Development Program and the 2015 U.S. 18-under World Championship before joining DU. Then he helped the Americans win the gold medal at the 2017 World Junior Championship.
Terry was among the few NCAA players to represent their country at the 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang, where he had five points in five games to tie for the U.S. scoring lead.
“I started this season (thinking) it may be a very distant (opportunity) in the back of my mind,” Terry said of making the U.S. Olympic team for the second time, but first with NHL players. “It’s something that I can’t even tell you how big of an honor that would be. It was incredible for me the first time and to be able to do it with NHL players would be really special.”
Footnote. The Avs will travel to Dallas on Thanksgiving Day and play the Stars on Friday. They complete a four-game week Saturday against the visiting Nashville Predators.