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October 17, 2014 - Image 11

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2014-10-17

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B Friday, October 17, 2014


3 Friday, October 17, 2014 // The Face-Off
Position by position: M' loaded at forward

JT Compher, second to right, is pictured here with teammates from his youth hockey days. Compher progressed thorugh hockey faster than most kids his age before he arrived at Michigan.

From Page 5B
he would stay home. He
couldn't leave his family.
But Valerie held firm. "We
would've never let him stay
home and pass on this oppor-
tunity," she said.
So Compher went to Ann
Arbor and, looking back, he
thinks going to Ann Arbor
was the best his parents
could have made him do
given the circumstance.
The first week of U.S.
NDPT camp is widely
known as the toughest week.
Compher said they put him
through "the ringer." The
players skate twice a day,
condition twice a day and try
to adjust to their new home
in Ann Arbor. Still, despite
the business and distrac-
tions, his father's cancer
still remained forefront in
his head. It stayed that way
throughout the week.
Days were long, Com-
pher admitted. But he never
thought his Dad would lose
his battle. Why? Because
Compher said his competi-
tive nature stems from his
father and the constant sup-
0 port from his billet family,
the Karibians. Bob agreed.

"You want to show your
family you're going to do
what you got to do to get it
done," he said.
And Bob did just that.
Soon after, doctor's success-
fully removed Bob's cancer
and the first person on the
phone with Bob was JT.
After the call, Compher
said he "took a deep breath"
and could focus on what he
originally planned to do it
Ann Arbor: grow as a hock-
ey player. He could go back
normal - competing harder
than anyone else because
if he doesn't, he feels out of
place and he has no room for
Not only did Compher
excel in the first year the
NTDP program - notching
50 points in 49 games - but
his mastery earned him a
spot on the U-18 team for
IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World
Despite being one of the
youngest players in the tour-
nament, the challenge was
never too great. Compher
tallied four goals in nine
games and scored a goal
in the Gold-Medal game
against Sweden, a game the
U.S. won.
In his second year, Com-

pher registered 57 points in
59 games, garnering serious
interest from NHL teams.
So on Compher went to
New York City, home of the
2013 NHL draft. It was given
he'd be drafted so his nerves
should've been tamer. But
when the Buffalo Sabres
drafted Compher with the
35th pick, shock ran through
his body.
"When you hear your
name called, you're like 'oh
shit, this happened,' " Com-
pher recalled. "You give your
mom a hug, dad a hug, then
you're gone for an hour."
Compher finally felt vali-
dated for his endless hours
of practice, travel to far away
rinks and all the off-the-ice
conditioning. And to Com-
pher, there was no better
way to spend the draft than
with Bob and his entire fam-
But Compher knew he
couldn't get complacent. He
knew he had bigger goals
in mind, namely a NCAA
Championship. He knew the
grind was only going to get
JT Compher is a pest on
the ice. He knows it. Every
teammate he's had knows
it. But they don't complain;

they understand his motive.
"I'm one of the more
annoying guys to play
against in practice; I hear
it everyday," Compher
said. "I do like to try to get
under guys' skins because
some guys need a little bit
of fire to get their practice
going. If they're mad at me
and it helps them to work
harder, it's good for me, it's
good for them, good for the
Jack Eichel, a teammate
of Compher's on the NTDP
team in 2012-13 and cur-
rent Boston University
forward, certainly noticed.
Eichel's projected to be a
top-five pick in the 2015
NHL draft.
"He is just so good wher-
ever he is," Eichel told NHL.
com. "He's a role model to
me and I really look up to
him. He's a great kid and a
great leader. Everyone else
tries to match him. A guy
like that on your team, it's
really good.
"Everyone tries to work
as hard as him, and if every-
one works as hard as JT, you
know you have a good team."
Junior forward Andrew
Copp echoed Eichel's senti-
ment. And Copp knows JT's
intensity as well as anyone

after he played victim to
Compher's antics last season.
"He'll hack you, slash you,
hit you late," Copp recalled.
"He'll do anything it takes to
get under your skin.
"I hate going against him
in practice, but I'd rather
have him on my team than
anyone else's team."
Copp said it best. No mat-
ter how annoying Compher
is to play against, players
wish they could channel the
same work level as him.
Now on the same line as
Compher, Copp no longer
has to deal with the slashes
or late hits, but he knows just
because Compher's lost one
of his targets, his grittiness
won't stop.
Copp said Compher has
"crossed the line" several
times - something Copp
said he never did while a
freshman - and that the
current freshman are well
aware of Compher's practice
intensity. And that doesn't
bother Berenson.
"That's his DNA: If there's
a loose puck, he's going to
win the battle for it," Beren-
son said. "No matter how
hard you try, he's going to
try and try harder. He's got
a compete level that doesn't

"And you know, JT has
been exceptional player
ever since he was young, but
he doesn't act that way. He
doesn't wear that mantle."
What shows is his disgust
with losing and it's no secret
that Michigan's last two
seasons have ended early
in disappointment. Michi-
gan hockey is a program
that qualifies to the NCAA
Tournament every year. It's
a team that opposing schools
circle in red prior to the sea-
son. Michigan hockey is not
last year's team - a team
that Compher played for. He
knows that, and he uses his
grittiness in practice to show
others what it means to wear
the block 'M'.
Compher has every inten-
tion ofchangingthe program
around. He knows he will do
everything in his power to
reverse the trend even if he
makes his teammates feel
uncomfortable - he doesn't
care. He only cares about
raising another banner in
Yost Ice Arena.
And for the rest, it's
reassuring knowing they
have a hockey player in
Compher, who will fight his
best friends over a game of
PlayStation, to help turn the
program around.

Daily Sports Writer
Most of its early stats are
unofficial, but two exhibition
contests and a single regular
season game have shown the No.
10 Michigan hockey team to be
deep on both sides of the puck.
In front of two start-worthy
goaltenders, the Wolverines have
the potential to have a breakout
offensive season, if they can stay
Forwards: After only one
non-conference game and two
exhibitions, the Michigan hockey
team's forward lines are clicking,
The offense has scored 16 goals
in three contests, an average of
more than five goals per game.
Michigan coach Red Berenson
has pointed to the second line, one
featuring freshman center Dylan
Larkin, sophomore forward Alex
Kile and senior Zach Hyman, as
one he expects to stick together
when the Wolverines enter the
thick of their nonconference
Unofficially, Larkin is leading
the Wolverines in scoring. The
Detroit Red Wings prospect has
already shown flashes of the
speed that made him a first-round
draft pick, following up a two-
goal performance against the U.S.
Under-18 National Development
Program with three assists and a
goal against Wilfrid Laurier.
Larkin's presence at center
may be the reason Kile has
emerged as an offensive threat
early on. In two games on the
line, Kile has tallied a goal and
three assists, matching Hyman's
four points over that period. All
told, the trio combined for 15
points in exhibition play, making
it Michigan's most productive
This offense has also matured.
JT Compher, the reigning
Michigan and Big Ten Freshman
of the Year, is now a sophomore,
and an alternate captain at that.
Before the season, the forward
made the switch to wing, flanking
junior center Andrew Copp.
Though the duo sat out against
Wilfrid Laurier last week,
last season's top-two scorers
are expected to be lethal on
Michigan's top line.
Production from the fourth

Junior forward Andrew Copp leads a loaded group of forwards, pairing with JT Coompher on the top line to bring together Michigan's top scorers from last year.

, .. -
}... ':

line, too, proves the offense
is Michigan's deepest unit.
Senior Travis Lynch may be
the Wolverines most improved
player, tallying two key third-
period goals (one official) after
scoring just twice in 29 games
last year. Lynch has been praised
for late-game face-off victories.
Junior forward Justin Selman
also added a goal and an assist in
three contests.
Selman is out indefinitely,
though, after fracturing his wrist
during the second period last
Thursday. It is unclear who will
take his place. The Wolverines
have options, though, especially
once players like freshman
forward Tony Calderone recover
from preseason injuries, which is
expected to be soon.
Michigan's early offensive
success is a product of a strong
presence in front of goal,
last season. Combine that with a
set of defensemen with the talent
to shoot from the blue line on the
power play, and the Wolverines
should be able to capitalize when
goals are at a premium.
Defensemen: The late
addition of freshman Zach

Werenski has changed this unit
from Michigan's biggest question
mark to one of its strengths.
In last Thursday's exhibition,
Werenski - a 17-year-old who
completed his high school degree
over the summer - tallied two
goals in four minutes. And he
made it look easy. He might not
be the next Jacob Trouba, but for
a team that lacked a legitimate
scoring threat on defense last
season, Werenski's presence on
the power play will be key.
The Wolverines are also aided
by the full return of sophomore
Kevin Lohan, who missed the
majority of last season due to a
torn anterior circulate ligament. A
6-foot-5, 220-pound defenseman,
Lohan brings both, physical
presence and offensive potential.
On a line with Werenski, Lohan
added a goal and an assist in two
exhibition games.
Should he remain healthy,
Lohan - who did not play the
third period against Wilfrid
Laurier due to a "tweaked" knee,
according to Berenson - will be
an impact player for Michigan on
Like the offense, this unit has
had a year to mature.
Though the defense is without

former starters Mac, Bennett
and Kevin Clare, players like
sophomores Michael Iowning
and Nolan De Jong are a year
wiser on the blue line. Meanwhile,
senior Andrew Sinelli enters as
a defenseman by trade after a
junior season in which he split
time between units.
Goaltending: Though
goaltender Zach Nagelvoort's
freshman campaign was
impressive enough to earn him
a fourth-round selection to the
Edmonton Oilers in the 2014
NHL Draft, it did not secure
him a starting job as Michigan's
That's because junior Steve
Racine hasn't regressed, despite
his time on the bench last season.
Berenson has said he's not
going to name a starter in the
near future, and that having
two goalies he's comfortable
playing is a good problem.
That's a compliment, given that
Nagelvoort set a program record
for saves in a single game.
In the first three contests, both
netminders have shown signs
of early-season jitters. Against
Ferris State, Nagelvoort allowed
two goals in the opening minutes

of play and four goals total. He
was beaten early again against
the U.S. NTDP, while Racine
allowed a goal just seconds into
his third-period appearance.
Still, Nagelvoort has gotten
the nod in all three contests so
far, and is expected to be in net
Friday, when the Wolverines take
on New Hampshire at Yost Ice



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