Minnesota has had hockey players from the greater Toronto area before, but it has been ten years since the last one started her Gopher career – long enough that no hint of recognition appears on the face of Whitby, Ontario’s Kelly Terry at the mention of the name of La Toya Clarke, who hailed from nearby Pickering.
The Terry family operates a sporting goods store in Whitby, so Kelly is accustomed to being around the game.
“I think hockey is just everything to do with my family, from how we make a living to what we do in our spare time, so it’s pretty interesting,” she said.
At one point, her father made his living from hockey more directly, pursuing a professional career that included a handful of games with the Minnesota North Stars.
“We kind of thought of it as an omen, like this is the right school for me,” Terry said. “I guess we joked about it a little bit. I loved the school, but that was something we thought about and made the connection there.”
Although a bit of family history can get a recruiter’s foot in the door, it takes more to get a commitment from a student athlete.
“I really liked the hockey program,” Terry said. “The arena and everything is just great, and of course, the schooling, that’s also what I was looking for. I’m not really sure what I want to do, so coming to the ‘U’ is good because it seems to have a lot of options for me.”
Unlike others in her incoming class, Terry did not have a lot of experience playing with or against her Gopher teammates.
“I knew Baylee Gillanders and Sarah Davis as freshmen coming in; I went to Canada camps with them,” Terry said. “I didn’t know anybody else on the team. I knew of them, but I wasn’t really friends with them yet.”
To complicate her introduction to her new team, Terry had to attend a Hockey Canada camp for a week just as Gopher practices began in earnest.
“It was kind of bad timing to miss a week; I wish I was there,” she said. “But a the same time, the girls are just awesome, I’m having a lot of fun with them, and they’re really welcoming to the freshmen.”
One way to advance acceptance on a new team is to contribute on the ice, so Terry was glad to find the back of the net for the first time wearing maroon & gold in the season’s second home game versus North Dakota.
“It was kind of a relief,” she said. “I felt like I was getting a few really good chances in the games before that, and just couldn’t seem to finish, so when I finally got that first goal, I was pretty much jumping out of my skin in excitement.”
Of course, scoring goals isn’t the only way a player can contribute.
“I’ve always been a pretty good two-way player,” Terry said. “Of course, I’m on the wing now, so that’s something I have to adjust – got to focus more on the offense. I like to use my speed, but at the same time, I think about my plus/minus and I really don’t like being scored on.”
Speed she has in abundance.
“Tremendous speed – kind of sneaky fast like a little jet that shoots out there,” Brad Frost said. “Her (second) goal was a good example of that. Just a loose puck and the defender was even with her and all of a sudden she just took off and won the race. She provides a lot of great energy, good pressure on the puck, and I think the ceiling is pretty high for her as well.”
Fast skaters who are relentless on the forecheck have been the standard for Gopher forwards over the years.
“We want to be a team that’s built around speed and skill, and she provides a lot of speed and continues to put that pressure on,” Frost said.
Terry is currently majoring in food science, but says there is a good chance that will change.
“I just picked that because it was basically the route I wanted to go, something in the sciences, but of course, I probably won’t stick with it. Just getting my basic science courses and then hopefully, I can do something in medicine. Just take a few years after the U and become a physician’s assistant or something.”
In light of the events leading up to a recent Gopher appearance at the Frozen Four, perhaps a practical application of food science may prove beneficial in preventing an ill-timed attack of food poisoning.
“I haven’t gotten into the detailed courses of food sciences, but if I can fix that type of thing, I’ll definitely help the team in the future,” Terry said.
For now, she’ll have to continue to help the Gophers in more conventional ways.