An award of The USA Hockey Foundation, the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award is presented annually to the top player in NCAA Division I women’s ice hockey. The 2019 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award winner will be announced on March 23 in conjunction with the NCAA Women's Frozen Four in Hamden, Conn.
Jesse Compher didn’t have a problem stepping into a leadership position during her second season at Boston University.
That significant leap also has Compher in the discussion for the prestigious Patty Kazmaier Award, presented annually to the top women’s college hockey player in the nation.
“You certainly feel more comfortable after your freshman year,” Compher said. “You learn you deserve to be here and that this is what you dreamed of as a kid, playing college hockey. If you keep that with you, it keeps you more comfortable. We have a great group of girls here, so it’s fun being at the rink every day.”
Compher finished third on the team as a freshman with nine goals and 26 points in 37 games. Compher, who was named to the Hockey East All-Rookie Team, has stepped up after Boston University graduated Victoria Bach and Rebecca Leslie, two of the top scorers in program history.
Compher, a Northbrook, Illinois, native, is the leading scorer at Boston University this season with 13 goals and 41 points in 25 games. That’s also good for a third-place tie in the nation.
“I think after your freshman year you get more of a leadership role sometimes and I think I stepped into that,” Compher said. “My teammates have been so receptive of me being an underclassman and I think that made me more comfortable on the ice as well.”
Compher, whose older brother J.T. played two seasons with USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program and now plays for the Colorado Avalanche, knew she had to make a significant jump during her sophomore season.
“Going into the summer, I knew I had to get bigger and stronger,” Compher said. “Last year, we had a couple big names on our team, and this year I’ve been focused on helping our team. I thought about that every day while I was training. I think that’s what made the difference with my play between this year and last year.”
BU lost in the Beanpot title game last February and in the best-of-three quarterfinals of the Hockey East Tournament against Maine. Compher looks forward to going through the Beanpot and Hockey East Tournament for a second time this season.
“Going through it once, everything you do, doing it for the first time, you don’t understand how exciting it is,” Compher said. “You get a whole different level of excitement and it’s another level of comfort as well and that really helps as you get older. I think last year during the playoffs, I felt like I had a bigger role than I had at the beginning of the season. That helped myself feel confident out there because I knew my coaches and teammates had more trust in me.”
Compher said that experience carried over into her sophomore season.
“My freshman year, everything seemed so fast,” Compher said. “It’s a big jump from high school to college hockey, but after you play a couple games going into your sophomore season, you start to play more naturally.”
It has showed this season as Compher was named Hockey East Player of the Month for December. She had more points and assists than any other player in the nation with at least two points in three of five games and a career-best five points at RIT.
“There were a couple players I also thought deserved it, but when I saw that I won the award, I was pretty excited,” Compher said. “It’s pretty fun when your work is honored, but it pushes me to know that I have to keep working hard so things like that keep happening.”
The Patty Kazmaier Award isn’t out of the question either.
“It’s obviously very exciting, and something I wasn’t expecting,” Compher said. “It means a lot. If you look at the all the names that have come before, it would be an honor to be in the same category as those players.”
Several of those players went on to play for the U.S. Women’s National Team. Compher has experience with USA Hockey as a two-time gold medalist with the U.S. Under-18 Team at the IIHF Women’s World Championship.
“I don’t think anything can compare to putting on the USA jersey,” Compher said. “Being able to win a gold medal twice is probably the best experience of my life. You can’t explain the feeling, it’s something you have to go through.”
Compher celebrates after helping the U.S. U18 Women's National Team claim gold at the 2017 IIHF U18 Women's World Championship.
Compher in December was also invited to the USA Hockey Women’s Winter Training Camp, which featured 19 members of the gold medal-winning 2018 U.S. Olympic Team. Compher also took part in the U.S. Women’s National Team Evaluation Camp in September and skated for the U.S. Under-22 Women’s Select Team during a three-game series against Canada in August.
In December, Compher roomed with three-time Olympian Hilary Knight, a leadership experience she brought back to Boston University.
“I think it’s cool when you’re a younger player because there’s so much you can learn,” Compher said. “The older players were super nice and made me feel welcome. Understanding how the national team plays and listening to the players out of college tell us what they’re doing to stay in shape was really cool to me. It was a fun time and a fun experience learning from all of the older girls.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc. Photo courtesy of Rich Gagnon.
Tag(s): Kaz Watch