After coming off a Frozen Four appearance last season, University of Denver hockey didn’t exactly have an impressive start in 2016. The team dropped its first two games to Ohio State and Boston College, losses that highlighted the Pioneers’ need for an offensive spark after two of their top scorers departed early for the NHL in the offseason.

Into that void stepped sophomore Troy Terry, a homegrown player from Highlands Ranch who has three goals and three assists for the Pioneers and is quickly emerging as one of the team’s de facto stars. The 19-year-old recorded a 22-point season in 2015—sixth on the team—and is now an important player who has helped the Pioneers pull off a six-game winning streak.

Terry’s ascension is all the more alluring due to the fact that the forward has taken the fast track to DU stardom and—perhaps a tad further down the road—an NHL payday. Terry completed high school in just three years, spending two at Rock Canyon High School before a hockey-motivated transfer to Pioneer High School in Ann Arbor, Michigan, for his junior year.

“I left to go play for the U.S. National Development program in Ann Arbor, and the unique part about playing there was we played a split schedule,” says Terry. “We played games in the USHL [United States Hockey League] and actual college teams, so I was able to get college experience under my belt before I even came to DU. That’s been big for my development with the Pioneers.”

Terry’s the right wing on a line that’s quickly become DU’s best, even in a season in which the Pioneers, by early indications, appear to be deeper than last year’s 25-10-6 squad. Freshman center Henrik Borgstrom and sophomore left wing Jarid Lukosevicius are also on Terry’s line, and all three underclassmen have been rapidly adjusting to major college hockey’s learning curve.

But Terry is careful to keep early season success in perspective. The Anaheim Ducks prospect knows that for DU to accomplish its ultimate goal—the program’s eighth national championship—each and every player must accept and rise to his role and be ready for the adversity that’s sure to come throughout National Collegiate Hockey Conference play.

“There’s obviously some pressure because we expect to make it back to the Frozen Four,” Terry says. “And last year’s end result wasn’t what we were looking for, so there’s a lot of motivation for us to get back there and come home with the championship this year. I’m going to do everything I can to continue to get better and help our team make that happen.”