DENVER — The bandwagon is making stops all over the west for fans to hop on and cheer for the hottest team in hockey, after the Colorado Avalanche swept the Edmonton Oilers in the Western Conference Finals.
However, there's one family that has been supporters of the Burgundy and Blue ever since their favorite player was acquired by the team in 2015.
The Comphers are a hockey family through and through.
Their bonds grew from road trips spent together driving to pee wee hockey tournaments, and then grew even stronger as the family dedicated 45 minutes to drive sister Jesse to her high school hockey practice. As the two siblings parted ways for college, the Comphers dedicated even more time to hockey travel between driving to the University of Michigan to watch JT, or flying to Boston to watch Jesse.
Now, the Compher family has elevated their road trips to larger venues with higher stakes.
"This is my first time being at a home playoff game and it's electric in there. It's so much fun to watch," younger sister Morgan Compher said.
The Western Conference Final brings out the fan in everyone. Their mother, Valerie, is just as relieved as the rest of the fanbase to see her son play in the third round.
"The fact that we just got past the second round, our Achilles heal, we are here, we are going all the way, let's do this!" she said.
His father, Bob, has seen JT through all of his ups and downs. This year, he feels like all of his blood, sweat, and tears will finally be worth it.
"It's been a great adventure and I think it's starting to pay off," he said. "I think you need to be in the playoffs a few times to learn how to win and I think they're there and hopefully they can take it all the way."
JT's other younger sister Jesse can appreciate that. She's been on a similar path and understands how much family support means for both of their athletic pursuits.
"To have your family there supporting you, I think that's what's gotten us so far and we're so lucky to have such a close family," she said. "I think that's the little extra help that each player gets and wants all of the time."
In fact, it's Jesse who has already reached the highest mountaintop as an Olympic silver medalist with Team USA hockey.
"I was like in tears in my 8am meeting in my jersey on mute watching the games," Morgan said. "It was so much fun and I'm so proud of her."
Jesse earned her first Team USA Olympic roster spot in January 2022. Her entire family, including JT, who was on an All-Star break, watched her compete in Salt Lake City for the qualifying round in person. No family was permitted to travel to Beijing.
"To watch her score her first points in an Olympic jersey, I was in tears, we were all in tears," Valerie said. "I don't care what anyone says, we all had tears in our eyes."
Jesse scored three goals and notched one assist in seven games during the 2022 Winter Olympics.
"A lot of hard work from when she was little to where she was, to go through college, to make the team, to not sure if she was going to make the team, it's been a great adventure for this whole family," Bob said. "We've all lived it and we've all gone through every part of it, so it's been great."
During the first round of the playoffs, JT was asked about Jesse's success and his ability to match it.
"My family has always been so supportive and she's leading the way right now," he said.
Jesse and the entire Olympic and Paralympic team was honored at the White House in May 2022. JT was told that there was one way that he would be able to make it to the White House this year too.
"Oh she always is [trying to one-up him], it's been a year where she's trying to get above me, obviously being in the Olympics, so I have to do my best to take the house back," he said.
Jesse hopes that's the case.
"Hearing that now, I hope he takes the reigns back," she said. "I'm sitting back now and I'm excited to be the fan and I'm proud of him. I can't wait to watch this team, and especially him, go all the way, because I think they have the potential to do that."
The Colorado Avalanche advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time in 21 years. JT Compher scored five goals within a final five game timeframe to help lift the team to the final round.
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