DENVER, Colorado - Tonight will also be the first time JT Compher faces off with former University of Michigan linemate Kyle Connor at the NHL level.
Connor, Compher, and Tyler Motte formed one of the most dangerous lines in NCAA hockey in the 2015-16 season, combining for 154 points in the 38 games Michigan played.
"All three of us can score different ways. Our games complement each other so well. We were playing the right way defensively and that created a lot of offence for us," said Connor, who finished as a Hobey Baker finalist that season. "It'll be fun. He's having some success there, and he's playing well. It's good to see that. It's good competition and it's always fun playing against him. I'm looking forward to it."
Jets forward Andrew Copp was also teammates with Compher at Michigan from 2013 until 2015. The two met up for dinner last night with Jacob Trouba, who skated with Compher in the United States Development program in 2011-12.
"We have a good group back home in Ann Arbor that we train with and spend our time with all summer. I think there are a few side bets going on, not between us, (but with them)," Copp said with a smile. "He's one of my closest friends and we've spent a ton of time together. It'll be special to play against each other."
It's the second time that Copp will see action against Compher at the NHL level, as the two played in the season series finale between the Jets and Avalanche on Mar. 4 last season.
Copp is only nine months older than Compher, but served as a source of advice as Compher worked to get to the NHL level, splitting time with the Avalanche (21 games) and the San Antonio Rampage (41 games) last season.
"I spent some time there last year, and I was able to play a lot and in a lot of different situations. It helped me prepare a lot for this year," Compher said of his time in the AHL with San Antonio.
"It's tough during the year to keep in contact with everyone. We see each other a lot in the summer. I skate with Kyle a lot, and I work out with Andrew every day. It's nice to have those guys that have been through that experience, and we can work through it together."