By Pat Graham, AP sports writer
DENVER (AP) — He’s named after football Hall of Famer Troy Aikman. His idol is hockey Hall of Famer Joe Sakic.
No wonder he’s so clutch in big moments.
Meet Troy Terry, a sophomore at the University of Denver who just led Team USA to a gold medal at the world junior championships in Montreal.
This is turning into quite a season for the 19-year-old from Denver: His University of Denver squad is ranked in the top five, he just led the United States to a big, big international win and his beloved Dallas Cowboys are a Super Bowl favorite.
“It’s the craziest experience ever,” Terry said in a phone interview Friday night. “All this attention, just crazy.”
He’s the forward of the hour, a fifth-round pick of the Anaheim Ducks in 2015 who just showed off his flair for the dramatic.
If that wasn’t enough, Aikman also reached out to him through social media to applaud Terry. The longtime Cowboys quarterback great was Terry’s father’s favorite player, and the reason his first name is what it is.
“I’m just a pretty simple guy, easygoing,” Terry said. “It’s all still so hard to talk, the experiences I’ve had the last couple of days. It’s like a dream, honestly. That’s a tournament I’ve watched since I was a kid.
“To be a part of it with such a great group of guys and come out victorious in Canada against Canada? We couldn’t have written it any better.”
Terry almost played football — his dad’s favorite sport. But he watched a Colorado Avalanche game with his father when he was little and fell in love. He could name every player on the Avalanche and where they were from.
His favorite, of course, was Sakic, the forward with a wicked wrist shot who’s now the general manager of the Avalanche. Terry actually played on a youth team with Sakic’s son. They used to go over to the Sakic house and shoot pucks on Sakic, who would put on all the goalie equipment.
“I don’t know if I got any shots by him,” recounted Terry, who wears No. 19 for Denver in honor of Sakic.
He sure beat goaltenders in Montreal.
Terry scored three times in the shootout against Russia’s Ilya Samsonov — all by slipping the puck under his pads. Against Canada, on what turned out to be the winner, Terry slid a shot under the legs of Carter Hart.
“I wasn’t known particularly as a shootout specialist or anything before this,” Terry said. “So if you would’ve told me before the shootout that I’d be the guy shooting multiple times to keep the game going, I wouldn’t have believed you. I was getting bounces, I guess.
“I’m glad I was able to pull it out for those guys. It’s been an awesome, awesome experience, with a group of guys who really deserved it. We worked hard for it, and I couldn’t be prouder of those guys.”
Terry arrived back in town Friday and showed up at the Denver rink to visit his team. He didn’t play Friday night against Arizona State, but was expected to be in the lineup Saturday.
“When I arrived at the rink for the pregame skate, everyone was giving me hugs,” Terry recalled. “It was pretty awesome.”
Terry helped Denver to the Frozen Four last season, when he had nine goals and 13 assists. This season, he already has nine goals and eight assists.
“It’s definitely been an awesome few months,” said Terry, who brought home a puck from the Russia game as a keepsake. “I’ll probably hang (the gold medal) up in my room somewhere and every time I look at it, I’ll remember this incredible feeling that we’ve had over the past two days.
“It’s something that will be special to me the rest of my life.”