Athletics & Recreation / Magazine Feature

Fast leaves DU hockey for Western Hockey League

Sophomore defenseman T.J. Fast has left the University of Denver hockey team to play major-junior hockey.

Fast, a business major from Calgary Alberta who played in 19 games for the Pioneers this season, will play in the Western Hockey League for the Tri-City Americans, a team based in Kennewick, Wash.

DU coach George Gwozdecky says he wasn’t entirely surprised by the decision.

The coach says he, his staff and representatives from the L.A. Kings (the pro team that drafted Fast before he came to DU) discussed with Fast the possibility of leaving the school to pursue his hockey career elsewhere.

“We’d been talking about his leaving since mid-November,” Gwozdecky says. “He had been feeling that he wasn’t developing as a player.”

But Gwozdecky says Fast decided he wasn’t “going to run away from it” and he’d work harder to be better.

“And he was working harder and playing better, everything was good,” Gwozdecky says.

But when Fast returned from the holiday break, he told the coach of his decision to leave to play major-junior hockey full time with the hope of some day making the pro ranks.

“That did surprise me,” Gwozdecky says. “I thought he had decided to stay.”

Gwozdecky says he believes Fast’s parents had something to do with the decision to leave. “His mother in particular was very outspoken about his leaving and playing professionally,” he says.

Gwozdecky said he believes that after the L.A. Kings showed interest in Fast, his parents began wanting their son to play professionally.

Playing in major junior hockey leaves Fast permanently ineligible for NCAA hockey and scratches any chance of a return to DU.

Fast amassed four assists in 19 games for the Pioneers this season. He finished his DU career with 11 points on one goal and 10 assists in 58 games. As a freshman, Fast recorded seven points and was one of six DU players who appeared in all 39 games. Fast is a 2005 second round draft pick of the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings.

Fast is also an avid lacrosse player and played for DU’s lacrosse team his freshman year.

Fast’s departure is expected to give junior Zach Blom and sophomore Julian Marcuzzi more time on the ice.

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