ASU hockey has a budding star in high-scoring winger Sean MurphyPosted: Updated:
TEMPE, Ariz. -- It took all of six minutes and 43 seconds.
Early in Arizona State’s season opener against San Diego State, freshman wing Sean Murphy skated into the offensive zone as a pass zipped his way. Anyone who had followed the career of this talented North Carolina native knew what would happen next.
The red light went on as Murphy’s shot beat the Aztec goalie, giving ASU a swift 2-0 lead. It was not only Murphy’s first career point as a Sun Devil, but it would also go down as the game-winning goal in ASU’s 12-1 victory.
Yet while some players may have been filled with excitement over their first collegiate goal, Murphy felt something else: Relief.
“I was just glad to get the first one out of the way,” said Murphy. “The first one can hover over your head. Sometimes it can mess with your confidence a little bit. Getting it right away was a good feeling.”
But the newcomer wasn’t done.
Less than five minutes later, a fantastic backhander gave Murphy his second goal of the game. The next night in the series finale against San Diego State, Murphy added a third goal to cap a very impressive debut weekend. After the first weekend of the year, he is tied for the team lead in goals, and considering the immense scoring talent on the roster, that is quite a feat.
Murphy admits that there were some first-game nerves, but overall was happy—but not content—with his performance.
“I played better on Friday night, but Saturday night was less stressful,” Murphy said “Overall, I played well, but I can always improve coming up.”
Murphy came to ASU with a scorer’s pedigree but also saddled with the expectation to be an immediate contributor.
The Sun Devils lost two productive forwards from last season in Stephen Collins (27 goals) and Dan Styrna (14 goals). Murphy was immediately inserted by head coach Greg Powers into Styrna’s spot on a line with team captain Colin Hekle and Faiz Khan, and the early results are encouraging.
“So far, we’re meshing together great,” Murphy said. “We have a lot of chemistry on the ice. It didn’t take a lot of work to get comfortable with each other. I love playing with them.”
With such a potent trio of skaters, Murphy feels his ability to be both a scorer and a distributor will make this line into one of the ACHA's best.
“I bring playmaking abilities,” said Murphy. “Playing with Faiz and Hekle makes it easier to make plays, and get couple of point every night.
Before coming to Tempe, Murphy was aware that ASU had a good program. Just how good remained a mystery, but not for long, thanks to ASU head coach Greg Powers.
“I understood that ASU had a hell of a hockey team. I was more unclear on how good club hockey was,” said Murphy. “He helped me understand it is quality hockey. Teams are good in this league and players are good in this league.”
During the recruitment process, what Murphy learned from Powers about the Arizona State program was enough to sell Murphy on becoming a Sun Devil, sight unseen.
“It’s a great school. I heard tons of great things about it, so I didn’t have to visit for me to make the decision to come here,” Murphy said. “It just felt right. Powers had a big part in it. He made me feel welcome right away. He opened my eyes to how good of a school it is, and how good the program was.”
Following their opening weekend dominance, Arizona State is now 2-0 and still ranked No. 2 in the nation as they prepare to face Weber State on Friday night. The Sun Devils remain one of the favorites to take home the ACHA national title this year, and despite such lofty expectations and pressure, Murphy feels his new team is more than capable of achieving that goal.
“We have the defense. We have the offense. We have the goalies. We have everything we need,” Murphy said. “It’s just going to be determined by how hard we work. If we don’t contend for a national championship, it will be our own fault.”
For his part, Murphy is doing everything he can to help make this a title team.
“I’m just trying to put points on the board every night, and trying to give my team a chance to win every night,” said Murphy. “Our goal is to win every game. If I can do anything I can help with that, I’m meeting my goal.”