For Terry, Denver Title is Twice as Nice
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CHICAGO Troy Terry isn't the first player to win a World Junior championship and NCAA national championship in the same season, but it's not exactly common. It's even less common when you are the anointed new "American Hero" for your World Junior performance, and you then win the national title for your hometown team.
But that was the case for Terry, as he capped off a storybook six months with two assists in the finals as Denver defeated Minnesota-Duluth, 3-2, for the program's eighth national championship.
And while it might have been Jarid Lukosevicius who is the new anointed hero in Denver for his hat trick, it was Terry that dominated the ice. He set up the second and third goals, dangling, seemingly having the puck on his stick constantly, daring UMD to take it away, and then hitting a crossbar in the third period.
"They shut me down a lot in the first period and kind of shut me out of the game," Terry said, modestly. "I thought the biggest thing for me was just to attack the net more. I think after I made that move (to set up the second goal), I think that's why it happened. I went to the net and tried to attack the net and I think I just instinctually made a quick little move and put it in front of the net, and Jarid was there."
But more than that for Terry, it was the culmination of a near-lifelong dream. He grew up watching Denver win the back-to-back titles in 2004 and 2005.
"It's been tough for DU hockey since then, and to just be able to play on the DU hockey team was incredibly special to me," Terry said. "And to be able to bring the national championship back to Denver is so incredible."
He committed to Denver the instant committing meant anything. In fact, he committed while George Gwozdecky was still the head coach, four years ago. And then, just as suddenly, the team did not have a head coach.
"I committed to Gwoz about seven or eight days before they parted days," Terry said. "It was weird, but I mean, as soon as I heard 'Jim Montgomery,' from everyone I talked to, they said he was a top-notch coach. (They said) you're getting a really great coach coming in and it's still a great place to be.
"That was weird, but DU is where I wanted to go. DU was the first school I talked to and I committed right away. There was never a question that was where I wanted to be and win a national championship."
It didn't take long for Terry to realize he made the right choice by sticking with Denver, not just because of the sentimentality of it being the hometown team, but because it was the right fit for his career.
"I don't think (Montgomery) had even seen me play, so I'm just glad he didn't de-commit me," Terry said. "But I talked to him and he was able to come see me play a couple times, and he liked me.
"Since I've been here, he's helped me as a player in so many ways, I can't even begin to thank him for that. ... He's so incredible, his details, and he pushed us so hard this year because he knew what we were capable of. And he's the reason we're here. And I'm so happy we could do it for him."
Asking someone to compare championships won is like asking a parent which child they like better. But in this case, winning the World Junior tournament, as amazing as that was, with Terry the hero in back-to-back shootouts against Russia and Canada to win gold in Montreal, takes a back seat now.
"That was incredible and something I'll remember for the rest of my life, (but) this is different for me," Terry said. "This is much more personal, it's the place I grew up and the school I grew up watching, and I can't even tell you how close these guys are. It's such a special locker room, such a special culture, to be able to have all of our hard work rewarded is pretty awesome."
And, of course, Terry will soon face questions about his future, and tempations to leave for greener — as in, more lucrative — pastures in the NHL. Terry isn't really ready to face those kinds of questions now, but in the passion of the moment, he seemed ready to return.
"That was the most incredible experience of my life, and I want to come back and do it again."
If he does, Denver just might do so.