Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Jaccob Slavin of Erie was an NHL All-Star in 2020, winning the marksmanship at the skills competition in St. Louis.

Anaheim Ducks forward Troy Terry of Highlands Ranch will become Colorado’s second NHL All-Star early next month in Las Vegas. And former NHL forward Nick Shore of Denver will represent the United States men’s hockey team at the upcoming Beijing Winter Olympics in China.

Boston Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo of Colorado Springs can explain what he has in common with Slavin, Terry and Shore.

“It says a lot about the Colorado Thunderbirds and how they’ve helped us along the way,” Carlo said of the triple-A youth organization when he was in town last Wednesday playing against the Colorado Thunderbirds. Avs.

The development of hockey in Colorado has reached a high level – an incredible achievement based on what the landscape was like. The influx of Avalanche and other NHL veterans living along the Front Range has made it a national hotspot for youth hockey, from Colorado Springs/Monument to Loveland/Fort Collins. Triple-A organizations such as Colorado Rampage (Monument) and Rocky Mountain RoughRiders (Superior) have been notable in helping an AA player dream of playing on bigger stages.

The Denver-area Thunderbirds, led by Philadelphia Flyers skills coach Angelo Ricci and former NHL veteran David Clarkson, and coached by former Avs such as Ken Klee and John Mitchell, seem to have the more alumni moving on to college, junior and professional levels. , including Slavin, 27; Carlo, 25 years old; and Terry, 24. Shore, 29, helped pave the way ahead of them.

They each played for the Thunderbirds at least until midget 16-under.

“For guys like Slavin, and obviously Troy, it’s so much fun to see them do so well in the NHL and have the honor of being an All-Star. Very well deserved,” said Carlo, who has a home in the Denver area. “I see them a lot in the summer, Troy in particular. He’s been amazing since the first time I played with him.

Av coach Jared Bednar, a native of Yorkton, Sask., saw hockey grow in the south when he coached the South Carolina Stingrays of the ECHL. Bednar still has a home in South Carolina. He now sees growth in Colorado, including northern Colorado, where the Colorado Eagles, the AHL affiliate of the Avs, are hugely popular.

“I think one of many markets that are doing a fantastic job with their minor hockey program development,” Bednar said of Front Range. “All positives from a hockey perspective and it’s happening everywhere, not just in Denver. I see it happening a lot in Fort Collins now – they’re trying to build more rinks there, and the hockey programs, as they move forward and travel around the country (doing well).

On the way to the Olympics. Shore said he was leaving for China in “a few days.” Jesse Compher, a member of the US Women’s Olympic Hockey Team, left for China on Thursday. She is the sister of Avalanche forward JT Compher.

“It’s such an exciting time for me and my family,” JT Compher said. “Every step of the way was fun. She left Minnesota (boot camp) and there was almost like a parade for them as they went to the airport, and (Tuesday) they got to try all the Olympic clothes for the opening ceremonies and all. It’s fun to watch her enjoying it and we can’t wait for the games to finally start.