Coming off a year in which he posted a career-high 32 points, Colorado Avalanche forward J.T. Compher had a new training partner at home this summer--his younger sister Jesse.
J.T. spent the 2019 offseason in his native Northbrook, Illinois, which allowed him to prepare for his fourth professional season with Jesse, who was getting ready for her junior caampaign at Boston University.
"It was the first full summer of training together. We weren't in the gym together every day, but a lot. She had surgery earlier in the summer, so she was working to get back," said J.T. "Definitely got to spend a lot more time together because I was at home in Chicago, and she was working her tail off."
Growing up in a family that didn't have a history in hockey, J.T. introduced the sport to his parents and sisters Jesse and Morgan. The group quickly learned to enjoy spending time at the rink and became increasingly more attached to hockey.
When J.T. left home to play with the U.S National Team Development Program in 2011-12, Jesse was just 12 years old and started to focus more on the sport.
"My family, no one before had ever played hockey. I was the first and my two younger sisters started," said J.T. "Once my youngest sister Jesse started playing, my middle sister Morgan decided she wanted to try it too, so Morgan tried for a year and Jesse stuck with it."
Now, J.T. has 61 points (33 goals, 28 assists) in 158 career NHL contests with the Avalanche, and his sister Jesse is an accomplished skater now in her junior year with Boston University.
During her first year at BU, Jesse recorded 26 points (nine goals, 17 assists) and was named to the Hockey East All-Rookie Team. She followed that up by more than doubling her point total in her second season, finishing the year with 61 points (17 goals, 44 assists).
Jesse's 61 points in her sophomore campaign led the Hockey East Conference and finished third in the NCAA. She became the first NCAA skater to record 30 assists and was second in the nation with 44 helpers. After the year ended, she was selected as a second team All-American and named a top-10 finalist for the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award, given to the top female college hockey player.
Once the college hockey season was over, Jesse suited up for the red, white and blue and helped Team USA earn a gold medal at the 2019 IIHF Women's World Championship in Espoo, Finland. The 5-foot-8 forward played in six games and recorded an assist and a plus-6 rating at tournament.
"I got to watch a few of the games, which obviously is very special," J.T. said of Jesse's performance at the 2019 IIHF Women's World Championship. "We always talk a little bit more when she does international tournaments or has a camp. I would say she leans on me a little more during that because I have played World Championships and have experience playing with older players, which she is not as used to. My parents got to go to the tournament, that was special. It was special for her and for our family."
J.T. watches Jesse's games when he can, but no matter what, he is always cheering her on. Their involvement with hockey has allowed Jesse and J.T. to grow and develop their bond as siblings around the rink.
"I think we have definitely spent more time working together in the last few years. I moved away for juniors when she started getting serious for hockey, so I wasn't really home for that," said J.T. "But over the last few years we have been able to work out together more and skate a lot. It is just a lot of fun seeing how hard she works and how much she enjoys the game and how well she is doing. It makes it fun to be a fan and enjoy that with my family."
While J.T. Can take some of the credit for introducing Jesse to hockey, her success has come from her hard work and determination to be as good as she can be.
"It's been incredible, each year I think she has surprised myself and herself and our parents," J.T. said. "She works so hard in the gym all summer, this past summer recovering from surgery but still working her tail off every day, working out with pro guys, NHL, AHL. She definitely deserves the success. She is very motivated and focused, and it is just a ton of fun being able to watch her."