- Paul Sherman/Daily
By Greg Garno, Daily Sports Editor
Published March 17, 2014
Michigan hockey coach Red Berenson knew from the very beginning that JT Compher would make an impact. Before the first game of the season had been played or Berenson had attended every practice, he knew the freshman forward would be a difference maker.
And at the end of the Big Ten regular season, Berenson was proved right.
Monday, Compher was named the Big Ten’s inaugural Freshman of the Year as well as a member of the All-Freshman Team and the All-Big Ten second team.
“It’s nice to be honored, but I didn’t really come here for individual honors,” Compher said. “I think that it’s helped playing with some good players, and coach has given me a good opportunity to step in and play some big minutes. But my teammates helped me win that award.”
Senior defenseman Mac Bennett also earned second-team honors, while forwards Andrew Copp and Alex Guptill received honorable mentions.
Senior forward Luke Moffatt was selected as Michigan’s recipient of the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award.
Minnesota’s sophomore goaltender Adam Wilcox was named the Big Ten Player of the Year after he led the Golden Gophers to a Big Ten regular-season championship and No. 1 ranking in the nation. They will likely also earn the top overall seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Compher finished the regular season with a team-high 31 points — 11 goals and 20 assists — leading all freshmen in the conference despite not scoring his first goal until a month into the season against Nebraska-Omaha. He averaged a point a game in Michigan’s 20 conference matchups.
“I think his passion (is his strongest asset),” Berenson said. “His passion and his work ethic are second to none. He shows up every day and works in hard in practice.
“You take that skill level and put it with his work ethic.”
Compher was a captain of the U.S. Under-18 National Team Development Program, finishing with 50 points — 18 goals and 32 assists.
“I just thought the momentum coming off the year he had last year to be an impact player at this level,” Berenson said.
In 30 games this season, Bennett totaled 14 points — two goals and 12 assists — as the Wolverines’ best offensive defenseman. The captain finished with a plus-12 rating — good for fifth in the conference among defensemen.
Copp finished with a team-high 15 goals and tallied 14 assists, while Guptill finished with 12 goals and 13 assists.