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USNTDP's J.T. Compher returns to lineup on Sunday

by Mike G. Morreale

U.S. National Under-18 Team forward J.T. Compher, the No. 1-rated skater on NHL Central Scouting's preliminary rankings release for the United States Hockey League, will return to the lineup on Sunday when the National Team Development Program plays host to St. Mary's University at the Ann Arbor Ice Cube in Michigan.

Compher had missed the previous 15 games with an undisclosed injury.

"He could have played two weeks ago, but we just held him out [as a precaution]," U.S. U-18 coach Don Granato told "He enjoys the game for the game itself. He just enjoys the competitive nature of the game. He always just addresses directly what's in front of him."

The 5-foot-10.5, 184-pound left wing, who will attend the University of Michigan next fall, has two goals and three points in six games this season.

"I'm the happiest coach in hockey right now [knowing Compher is returning]," Granato said. "He's our captain and he was a tough guy to be missing."

Team USA is currently 12-6-1-2 in 21 games, including 8-5-2 without Compher in the lineup. Granato was ecstatic to see Compher No. 1 on Central Scouting's preliminary rankings for the USHL.

"I think he's very deserving of that rating," Granato said. "He's just a competitive guy, but where he forces you to fall in love with him as a player is that he's a team guy that plays to win. In today's world of sports, there are a lot of guys who play to score, but this guy wants to win."

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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