BEIJING – With Chelsea Dagger blaring through the PA and fellow Chicagoland native Abbey Murphy skating by her side, Jesse Compher feels right at home on the Olympic ice at Wukesong Sports Centre.
Skating in her first Olympics, the Northbrook, Ill., native is showing that she belongs on the big stage as she continues to provide some much-needed scoring depth to the already potent U.S. attack.
Compher was one of three U.S. players to score a pair of goals, along with Hilary Knight and Kelly Pannek, as the U.S. beat Switzerland, 8-0, for their third win of the tournament, and set up a final preliminary round showdown with Canada on Tuesday.
“As a team, we played unbelievable,” said Compher, who scored for the second consecutive night. “We came out strong and we focused on the little things and what we needed to do to walk away with the win. We’re excited to keep rolling from here.”
Hearing a goal song made famous during the Chicago Blackhawks Stanley Cup runs in 2013 and 2015 brings back a flood of memories for Compher, who has been to more than her fair share of games at the United Center.
“It definitely hits home,” she said. “I grew up going to Blackhawks games so it’s definitely a fun feeling. We also have a bunch of Chicago players on the team so it’s nice to share these memories with them as well.”
One of those Chicago players is her linemate Abbey Murphy. Both grew up playing with the Chicago Mission organization, and while Compher is a few years older, she still remembers that younger fireball tearing up the ice in the Windy City.
“It’s so much fun to play with her,” Compher said. “I watched her grow up around the rink as a Mission kid. We’re having fun and it just feels like we’re back in the good old days playing games when we were younger. I’m just lucky to have her by my side.”
What. A. Shot. @JessComph7 #WinterOlympics | #TeamUSA pic.twitter.com/0gU1qJwQKF— USA Hockey (@usahockey) February 6, 2022
Compher is also lucky to have such a strong support network back home. Her family made the trek out to Park City, Utah, to watch the games with other families who could not make the trip to watch games in person.
Joining the watch party was Jesse’s older brother JT, who plays for the Colorado Avalanche. The NHL All-Star break provided him a rare opportunity to watch his sister play in the Olympics, and she certainly has not disappointed.
“It’s been nice to have him along the way,” she said. “He doesn’t always get to watch my games because of his schedule, so it’s really fun to see him enjoying it with my parents, my sister and his girlfriend as well. It’s definitely a really good feeling knowing they are enjoying this.”
It’s also special that the U.S. is finding balanced scoring up and down the lineup, including from the back end. Head coach Joel Johnson knows that his team will need to rely on more than the top line of Hilary Knight, Kendall Coyne Schofield and Hannah Brandt as they move forward in the tournament.
“It's just awesome to be able to look up and down the lineup and know we can put anybody over the wall and they're going be a threat to score,” he said.
“I look at different players playing really, really well defensively and then all of a sudden they go down the other end and score a goal. And boy, now you’re just really excited to call anybody’s number to jump out and go after it.”