SALT LAKE CITY, UT (NEXSTAR) — For the first time in 30 years, professional hockey players won’t skate for Team USA at the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang.
This spring, the NHL announced it would not allow its players to participate in the Games. That news came as a huge disappointment to professional players and many fans.
To young players, however, it came as welcome news.
“It’s exciting for me […] and other college players who could represent their country on the biggest stage,” said Troy Terry.
Terry, a forward for the University of Denver, is on the shortlist to make it on the Team USA roster, along with Boston University’s Jordan Greenway. Both are aware the opportunity to impress on an international stage is coming early in their careers.
“I always wanted to play on an Olympic stage,” Greenway said. “Everyone does growing up, I just didn’t think it was going to come this soon and I couldn’t be more happy.”
Terry and Greenway are both also aware that they may not be hockey fans’ first choice for the team.
“I know some people would like to see the NHL guys, but it creates a really interesting dynamic with college guys,” Terry said.
He references the 1980 ‘Miracle’ team, underdogs who were also college-aged, but went on to defeat Russia and win gold.
University of Wisconsin men’s hockey coach Tony Granato will lead the team in PyeongChang.
“I’m very confident that we’ll be able to put together an exciting team of players that will represent our country the right way,” Granato said.
Players such as Terry and Greenway gained confidence on the U.S. National Junior Team, which won gold at the Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship in 2017.
They and Granato now have their eyes on the podium in 2018.
Team USA will likely announce its final roster in early January. It’s possible some NHL names will appear on the list if retired players decide to return for the Games.