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Compher siblings develop strong bond through hockey

Avalanche forward, Boston University star carved paths from childhood home

by Tracey Myers @Tramyers_NHL / Staff Writer

CHICAGO -- J.T. Compher and his sister, Jesse, developed a love of hockey in the family home when they were kids.

The siblings played in a concrete extension their parents, Valerie and Bob, built on their house in Northbrook, Illinois, about 25 miles northwest of Chicago. J.T. would often fire slap shots at Jesse, who originally wanted to be a goalie.

"I don't know why I ever thought that was a good idea," Jesse said. "It was a lot of fun and super competitive, but I think it kind of made us who we are now."

The childhood games have led to big things for the Comphers.

J.T. had an NHL career-high 32 points (16 goals, 16 assists) in 66 games last season for the Colorado Avalanche, who advanced to the Western Conference Second Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The 24-year-old forward signed a four-year contract with the Avalanche on July 17.

Video: Compher signs a four-year deal with the Avalanche

Jesse, a 20-year-old forward, helped the United States win the 2019 IIHF Women's World Championships in April and had a strong sophomore season at Boston University, where she led the team in points (61) and assists (44).

"She got more serious about hockey once I was kind of already at the national program. I'd moved away. But to watch her, her whole career but these last few years especially, it's been really special," J.T. said. "She had an unbelievable year at B.U. this year, got to go play in the World Championships. It's exciting to be a part of it and get to watch her in those experiences. I've had similar type experiences."

Jesse said she's looked up to J.T. since they were kids.

"As his success kind of grew and grew, it's been awesome to follow him and see what he's doing," Jesse said. "We like to joke around, send each other our stats once in a while, see who's doing better. But it's cool to see how hard he works because he's a good role model for me."

Valerie Compher has fond memories of a household filled with hockey. Morgan, the middle sister, used to be part of the games too, and there were always plenty of neighborhood kids coming over to play.

"We had every size, every curve of every stick, right and left, in the basement, and four different sets of goalie pads," Valerie said. "And everyone just came over and had a great time. We also grew up in a neighborhood where their best of friends were all hockey players and they all played together until J.T. went to AAA in eighth grade."

Now, Valerie and Bob enjoy traveling to follow J.T. and Jesse's careers. Valerie said they're making plans for this season and will try to attend 12-16 games.

"That doesn't sound like a lot, but it's times two," Valerie said. "Hockey's also such a small community; when you go places, you know everyone, there are lots of hugs and it's nice to visit. And we spend every other night we can watching them sitting on the couch and having friends over to cheer them on."

Video: SJS@COL, Gm6: Compher pots one-timer through traffic

J.T. is spending this summer at home for the first time in a few years, and he and Jesse are working out together with Ian Mack of Tomahawk Science in Chicago. J.T. is playing in the Chicago Pro Hockey League at Fifth Third Arena on Wednesday nights, but Jesse probably won't; she had foot surgery and didn't resume skating until late July.

J.T. and Jesse are enjoying their time together while they can. Once they get back to their respective teams in the fall, they'll keep tabs on each other as much as possible.

"It's kind of hard with the time difference, him in Colorado and me in Boston, but sometimes I'll stay up to watch his games and if he's not playing, he'll try to watch mine," Jesse said. "But we'll certainly call each other, [talk through] social media and stuff like that, and text quite a lot."

J.T. said, "We watch as many of each other's games as we can, especially when she goes to the international tournaments. The bigger games she'll call me, tell me how she's feeling and she's such a good player now. She's strong, she's getting faster and I can see all the skills are continuing to improve. It's a lot of fun getting to share that with her."

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