|J.T. COMPHER, Avalanche|
|FIRST NHL GOAL|
It’s a season in Colorado when all eyes are focused on the future. Rookie J.T. Compher gave them a reason to open them just a little wider when he scored the game-winning goal against the Red Wings with his first NHL goal.
Compher’s ice-breaker showed savvy beyond his 21 years. Three Avalanche players entered the Detroit zone simultaneously, all bunched together on the left side of the ice, with Compher carrying the puck. The Red Wings had three men back. There was no reason to suspect a scoring opportunity was about to materialize.
But instead of charging hard into the zone — and inevitably being forced toward the corner — Compher pulled up slightly, allowing his teammates to fan out in the Red Wings end.
He soon found that the high slot had opened up very nicely for him and stickhandled his way to the portion of the ice between the upper parts of the circles. As pressure began to present itself from behind, Compher let loose with a zinger that flew over the left shoulder of goaltender Jimmy Howard — not a bad netminder to blow your first career goal past.
Smiles have been in short supply for the Avalanche this year, but his on-ice mates let loose with a barrage as they wrapped him up in a spirited group embrace, with Francois Beauchemin particularly animated in his congratulations.
And then we saw that the Colorado group hasn’t let their disappointing season destroy their morale. As Compher started his way down the receiving line at the bench, he got Gatoraded — or at least the first-NHL-goal equivalent.
Captain Gabe Landeskog positioned himself perfectly to send a squall of water directly into and under Compher’s visor. The Avalanche rookie will never know who else slapped his hand, as he was too busy shaking the droplets out of his eyes to concentrate on anything else.
Eight games into his career the accolades also rained down on Compher. The poise and skill he showed on his opening goal suggest there might be much more to come.
|3/15/2017 vs. Detroit|