The Wolverine

March 2014

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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BY MICHAEL SPATH B y the time J.T. Compher joined Team Illinois, he was considered old by the stan- dards at which most youth hockey players enroll in AAA. His lack of experience at that competitive level could have been a hindrance to the 13-year-old, but almost instantly it became apparent to head coach Larry Pedrie that Compher was not like most skaters that delay entry into AAA. "There's usually a good reason why a family waits, whether it's physical or mental maturation, or the player's game just isn't up to that level yet," Pedrie said, "but even though some of the other kids in our program had been playing AAA for two or three years, J.T. was clearly one of the best players we had, if not the best player." Compher has never been the big- gest kid on his teams (though at 5-11, 185 pounds he's, by no means, small) nor the fastest skater, but he was a fluid skater, and barely into his teen- age life, the Northbrook, Ill., native showed uncommon hockey IQ and effort for his age. "What he had that was rare for kids at that stage of their develop- ment was a relentless work ethic," Pedrie said. "Some kids are just too young to understand you really have to compete with and without the puck, and in your puck races and puck battles, because all of those little things are what makes the difference. "When you get a kid with ability, that does those little things, then you have something special. "If you look at the NHL, it's no different. Your great players are the most talented, but they usually have the best work ethics also. And even at 13, that's what J.T. had." Compher's game has grown since then, but he has not betrayed his core fundamentals, building on them to be- come one of the most complete play- ers in the Big Ten. That he is equally capable of impacting on the defensive end and on the penalty kill as he is on the offensive end and the power play in his freshman year — that is rare. "Usually when you get to school, you focus on that one thing that re- ONE of a KIND Freshman J.T. Compher Is Already Excelling In All Facets Of The College Hockey Game

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