Seniors graduate and players transfer.
That’s the story in college sports, but in order to maintain a perennial title contender, recruiting becomes key.
ASU hockey coach Greg Powers brought in 14 freshmen this season for the Sun Devils, but none come in as highly touted as Sean Murphy.
Murphy comes to the Sun Devils after last playing in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. in the North American Hockey League. Last season with the Soo Eagles, he scored 17 goals and had 19 assists for 36 points in only 28 games. He had a +/- of +14 and only spent 10 minutes in the penalty box.
This year, he hopes to continue that success at his new home in Tempe.
“Honestly I’ve been living in some cold places, and I just wanted to play some good hockey and live in Arizona,” Murphy said.
Powers said that it took some time to convince Murphy to join ASU. Murphy was mulling offers from many other programs, including NCAA Division I teams, but he ultimately chose the Sun Devils, Powers said.
Murphy expects to make an immediate impact, joining last year’s top line alongside junior Faiz Khan and senior captain Colin Hekle. Murphy will be replacing the departing Dan Styrna, who scored 40 points in 39 games last season.
“I don’t know if I can replace a guy like Dan, but I’m just going to jump in there and try to do my best,” Murphy said.
Hekle said he is confident that Murphy will make sure Styrna’s on-ice presence will not be missed too much.
“Styrna was a great player (and) he’s going to be hard to replace,” Hekle said. “But I don’t think we’re going to miss a beat. … Murphy’s fit in like you wouldn’t even have thought he hadn’t played with us.”
Styrna stood 6 feet, 2 inches tall and weighed 190 pounds, compared to the 5-foot-8-inch, 175-pound Murphy. Hekle and Khan’s line will have to play a slightly different game with different-sized players, something that Powers said he doesn’t foresee being a problem.
“Even though (Murphy) is a lot smaller, he’s capable of playing a little bit more physical (than Styrna), which is good,” Powers said. “Sean’s an incredibly smart kid, and you need to be to play with (Hekle) and Faiz. … I’m looking forward to seeing what they do.”
Powers said that he expects Murphy to do a little bit of everything when it comes to scoring and assisting in goals. He said he worries that he might need to tell Murphy to “get more selfish,” in regards to scoring goals himself.
Murphy said he is excited to join the Sun Devils’ hunt for a national title. He said the team would not be content with just making the playoffs, and that they “can’t really settle for anything less” than an ACHA title.
“Our talent level is beyond what I expected,” Murphy said. “We’re going to be an unbelievable team.”
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