Aug. 4, 2014
Complete USA Hockey National Junior Team Evaluation Camp Coverage (USA Hockey)
Last December, when JT Compher left the Wolverines for training camp with the U.S. National Junior Team, he figured to play a key role for USA Hockey at the World Junior Championship. But on the second day of camp on Dec. 16 in Minneapolis, Compher blocked a shot with his left foot and hobbled off the ice. USA Hockey feared that a significant injury had occurred, and Compher returned to Michigan, missing out on the tournament.
While it was initially thought that he could miss up to six weeks, Compher was back on the ice on Dec. 26 to practice with the Wolverines for the Great Lakes Invitational at Comerica Park, the same day that Andrew Copp and Team USA began its defense of its 2012 gold medal in Malmo, Sweden.
The Wolverines were glad to have him.
This week, as Compher takes his first step toward his second run at making Team USA this week (Aug. 2-9) at the National Junior Evaluation Camp in Lake Placid, N.Y., he has no regrets at how things went in December.
"It just means I had another chance at this," Compher said. "I'm trying to take advantage of it as much as I can and have a good camp. This is just the start of it, there's a lot more of the process to go. But this is the first step in building the team. It's fun to be here, and I'm just trying to take advantage of the opportunity."
Q: It's been a busy summer for you so far. You were in development camp last month the Buffalo Sabres. All reports were that you had a strong week there. Talk about the experience, particularly playing in front of nearly 9,000 fans in an intrasquad scrimmage.
JT Compher: "It's always exciting to have an opportunity to go to Buffalo for camp, especially with new management this year. I wanted to get to know everyone and get a little coaching with hockey in the summer. I thought it went really well. The fans were awesome, 9,000 people for a scrimmage midweek. It was a really fun camp.
Q: Buffalo has a lot of young talent up front, drafting forward Sam Reinhart second overall in the 2014 Draft in addition to several picks over the last few years at the forward position. Do you sense they are building towards something great in the near future?
Compher: "They have a lot of recent draft picks, a lot of first-round and second-round picks. Even some of the free agents were very good. It was definitely apparent that the future is pretty bright for Buffalo, and there's good skill there."
Compher: "I think it's good for Michigan to have this many guys in camp. We'll definitely get some good coaching over the summer, and we get to play some hockey. For Michigan to have that many guys here it says we have a good program and guys that are playing well, which is good for everyone, both USA Hockey and Michigan."
Q: There are also a lot of players from different Big Ten schools in camp. Will there be some trash talking this week?
Compher: "Most of us have played on the same team, whether it be the national program before or guys in the USHL. Guys are friends even though we're enemies during the year. It's good to see them, but obviously once we put on the Michigan uniform it changes a bit. But right now we all put on the USA uniform, and we're on the same team."
Q: While you've been to Lake Placid before, does it ever get old playing at Herb Brooks Arena, the site of the "Miracle On Ice," arguably the greatest moment in the history of USA Hockey?
Compher: "It never gets old. It's really cool that they have the camp here and to be able to come visit such a special place for American hockey. You can sense the history here, which makes it a little more special."
Contact: Jeffrey Weinstein (734) 763-4423