by Pat Rooney
(left) TJ Fast reading to group of future Pioneer hockey players (click to enlarge)
An unexpected change of heart has left the University of Denver hockey team thinner along the blue line, as sophomore defenseman T.J. Fast has informed coach George Gwozdecky of his decision to leave the program.
Fast had sporadic conversations with Gwozdecky during the past two months about his growing unhappiness but, according to Gwozdecky, Fast told the coach he intended to remain with the program before the holiday break.
Fast evidently changed his mind while spending the holidays in his hometown of Calgary, Alberta, and informed Gwozdecky on Monday of his decision to leave school and play Major Junior hockey full time.
"This has been kind of ongoing the past couple months," Gwozdecky said. "T.J. has been figuring out what he wants to do with his academic and hockey careers. If I was surprised, it was because he flip-flopped."
As a freshman, Fast recorded seven points and was one of six DU players who appeared in all 39 games.
A second-round selection of the Los Angeles Kings in the 2005 draft, Fast was a healthy scratch for five games earlier this season, a period that became a source of his dissatisfaction, but he had played in the past 11 games and finished with four assists in 19 games.
Fast's departure likely will mean more opportunities for junior Zach Blom and sophomore Julian Marcuzzi.