February 21, 2024

As Princeton Men’s Hockey Heads into Stretch Drive, Captain Murphy Shakes Off Injury to Get Back on Ice

BACK ON ICE: Princeton University men’s hockey player Ian Murphy controls the puck in a game last season. On Friday, senior captain and star forward Murphy scored a goal as Princeton fell 4-3 to RPI. The Tigers, who posted a shootout win over Union last Saturday after the teams tied at 2-2 through regulation and overtime to improve to 8-14-3 overall and 6-10-2 ECAC Hockey, play at Yale on February 23 and at Brown on February 24. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Ian Murphy has been banged up this winter for the Princeton University men’s hockey team, getting sidelined for five games due to injury.

But with Princeton heading into the stretch drive of the season, senior captain and star forward Murphy has battled through the pain to get back on the ice.

“I am closest to 100 percent that I have been in a long time, which is nice,” said Murphy. “I feel way better than I have in a long time. Being in game shape is a lot different, there is only so much you can do on the bike. Skating is way different than anything else. I have been dying out there a little bit. I am just so happy to be back.”

Last Friday as Princeton hosted RPI, Murphy scored a third period power play goal to knot the contest at 3-3.

“It was nice to get the five-minute power play, [Noah] de la Durantaye said he was going to pass it and it kind of rolled up on his stick and ended up being a shot instead,” said Murphy. “I was going to the net and luckily it took a good bounce in my direction. I was praying that I got enough to the goal line where I could get a decent look at it. I don’t even know if it bounced off the goalie or when straight in. At least it went in.”

The Tigers didn’t get the bounces after that as the Engineers scored midway through the period to go up 4-3 and a late flurry by Princeton with an extra attacker didn’t yield a goal as it fell by that margin.

Murphy felt a goal coming in that final sequence as the Tigers peppered the net, generating a slew of scoring chances.

“We were just playing desperate, getting retrievals, getting pucks back, winning it down low and up top and shooting it down,” said Murphy. “I thought we were scoring. I thought I scored at one point, I thought I tipped one in. I even put my arm in the air, thinking that it went in but it went wide. It is just a game of inches.”

Throughout the game, Murphy was a thorn in the side of the Engineers, getting involved in several scraps along the boards.

“I like to think I am playing my best when I am making people angry, getting under their skin,” said Murphy. “I wasn’t the biggest fan of theirs, they weren’t the biggest fan of mine either. It is a fun way to play. If I can draw a couple of penalties like I did that game, it is overall a positive.”

Serving as a team captain has proved to be a positive experience for Murphy.

“It has been great, I am lucky enough to have a lot of other leaders on this team that make my job easier,” said Murphy, a 5’11, 195-pound native of Scituate, Mass., who has tallied six goals and nine assists this year and 30 goals and 34 assists in his college career. “I think we have built a tremendous culture here. It is a huge honor and privilege to be the captain, I will be forever grateful for it. I love this team, I love these guys.”

A night later, the Tigers got the job done as they posted a shootout win over Union after the teams tied at 2-2 through regulation and overtime to improve to 8-14-3 overall and 6-10-2 ECAC Hockey.

“We are going to figure it out,” asserted Murphy. “Even though we are nipping at it and going up and down. I think we are taking steps in the right direction.”

Princeton head coach Ron Fogarty loves having Murphy back out on the ice.

“Ian is shaking some of the rust off, he was engaged,” said Fogarty. “He is just coming back from an injury, he was out for three weeks. He has been playing through a lot of injures since the Sacred Heart game (in early December). He is almost back, he is still playing injured. He is a captain of the team, he adds a lot to us when he is on the ice.”

The Tigers did a lot of good things against RPI as they outshot the Engineers 46-18 on the night.

“I thought throughout the whole game we played particularly well,” said Fogarty. “You throw that many shots, rebounds, and opportunities, usually you are rewarded with a win. Tonight that wasn’t to be.”

Two Tiger freshmen forwards, Carson Buydens and Michael Young, did get rewarded for their efforts as they each scored their first career goal in a 15-second span in the first period.

“It was great to see those two guys do that; the result overshadows what those guys did but I was happy that they scored,” said Fogarty. “Young has been getting opportunities and Buydens had a couple of chances earlier in the year to score. So for them to score their first goals was awesome to see. We are going to need those guys for our future, they are here for three and a half more years. Those guys were goal scorers at the junior level.”

In achieving a good result against Union, the Tigers got two goals from senior defenseman Nick Carabin and a shootout tally from Adam Robbins as they rallied from a 2-0 deficit against Union. Looking ahead, Fogarty believes Princeton is headed in the right direction.

“We played well at Clarkson and didn’t get rewarded (a 4-2 loss on February 9), we played well at St Lawrence (a 5-4 overtime victory on February 10) and got the win,” said Fogarty, whose squad plays at Yale on February 23 and at Brown on February 24. “We played well tonight, we just came up a little short. How we are playing is good. You don’t want to squeeze the stick so much where a mistake is in the back of your net. You get three goals, you have got to win games.”

Murphy, for his part, is looking to help the Tigers enjoy a big stretch drive so he can play as many games as possible.

“I have been dying to get back on the ice and now that I am back, I just want to play as long as we can,” said Murphy. “I want to give everything I have and have no regrets when I look back at it.”