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Exclusive interview with J.T. Compher

Exclusive interview with J.T. CompherThe Eurolanche Fan Club did an interview with San Antonio Rampage forward J.T. Compher.

J.T. Compher had an outstanding career in the NCAA, where he played for the University of Michigan between 2013 and 2016 following a two-year stint with the USA Hockey National Team Development Program. During his rookie season with Michigan, he was selected as the inaugural Big Ten 2013–14 Freshman of the Year and was also named to both the 2013–14 Big Ten All-Freshman Team and the All-Big Ten Second Team. He also won the Deker Club Award as Rookie of the Year and the Hal Downes Award as the team's MVP. In his final season, Compher was the captain of the Wolverines and had the best season of his junior career – he scored 16 goals and added 47 assists for 63 points in just 38 games. He was named to the All-Big Ten First Team, led the league in assists and finished second in overall scoring. At the Big Ten Tournament, he broke the record for most assists in one game (5), was tied for first place with eight points and was named to the Big Ten All-Tournament Team.

Internationally, Compher has represented Team USA five times at four different age-categories and won two silver and one gold medal for the U17 and U18 teams, respectively. He made his debut at the senior level last year.

Compher’s rights were traded by the Buffalo Sabres along with Nikita Zadorov, Mikhail Grigorenko and the 31st draft pick to the Colorado Avalanche  in exchange for Ryan O’Reilly and Jamie McGinn during the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. One year later, Compher signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the Avalanche. As of today, he recorded 28 points in 40 games for the Avs' AHL affiliate, the San Antonio Rampage. He is expected to make his NHL debut during the following season.

The first question is how would you evaluate your first pro season so far?

I think it’s going well. Obviously, the team hasn’t done as well as we wanted to, but I’ve been able to acclimate over the first half of the season so far.

What is the biggest difference between the NCAA and the AHL?

I think the speed and skill of the guys. It’s a little more physical as well. You can certainly see the step up from the NCAA to the AHL.

A lot of European fans don’t have the opportunity to watch the AHL games, so how would you describe your skillset and style of play?

I’d say I’m a hard-two-way center who tries to compete all over the ice to win battles. When I have the puck, I try my best to be a play maker and score goals as well.

Has it hit you that fan see you as a young prospect for the Avalanche?

You think about the future and where you want to be, and of course that’s where I want to play. For me, it’s just about focusing on myself and continuing to get better every day.

The Grimaldi-Compher-Greer line has done well. What can you attribute to the success of that line? Also, how important are they to your individual success?

When we play together we’ve had great chemistry, we’ve been able to bring speed and tenacity to score goals. We try to make sure we finish all our opportunities. I’ve enjoyed playing with them, they are great hockey players.

What’s been the biggest thing you’ve learned in your first year in the AHL?

The biggest thing is consistency. You play way more games than in the NCAA, so it’s important to take care of your body day-in and day-out. It doesn’t matter if it is a weekday game or a long road trip, you’ve got to show up to play every time and be ready to help the team.

Obviously, you want to play with the Avalanche next season, but do you think they will give you an opportunity to play later this season?

I mean that isn’t something I can control. It’s just about working hard and continuing to help here in San Antonio to improve my game, that way if I do get the opportunity I’m ready for it.

Do you talk with the staff up in Colorado to figure out what you can do to improve your game?

Yeah, we’ve got a great staff here in San Antonio. But if there are guys visiting I’ve been able to get some feedback. I’m always taking that into consideration to work on the things that they see I can improve on.

What is your biggest hockey related dream?

The dream when you grow up is to play in the NHL and one day win the Stanley Cup. I think that’s the dream of any player, so I think that would be the greatest accomplishment in my hockey career.

How about your sister Jesse? How is her hockey career going and how have you been there for her?

My sister is going to Boston University to play hockey next year. She just won her second gold medal at the U18 World Championship so it’s nice to have that in common. She’s been able to play at a high level but she will continue to play at higher levels as she advances in her career.

What was it like having a sister who also enjoyed playing hockey? Do you have any other siblings who enjoy sports as well?

It’s great having that in common with my sister. I think I’ve been able to help her navigate through her hockey career since I’ve been through some of the things that she’s going through now. For example, picking schools to playing in a national tournament; it’s made a great connection. I’ve also got a younger sister who is a student in college right now.

Photo courtesy of USA Hockey


David Puchovsky, Slovakia, eurolanche@eurolanche.com
26/02/2017 - 18:00

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