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Trading wheels for blades was no problem for Richmond goalie Murphy

02/27/2014, 5:30pm MST
By Tom Robinson - Special to

Whether he was using makeshift equipment to stop shots around the house from his brother Cole or on roller skates with the best youth inline players in the country, Tucker Murphy has always had a knack for stopping pucks.

“I was about 6 years out when I started playing goalie,” said Murphy, who first tried hockey as a 4-year-old. “My brother was a hockey player and I went after what he was doing. Then one day, he got bored shooting at an empty net and kind of threw me in there without pads.”

Murphy soon started the series of transitions that have brought him to the Richmond Generals, where he is the starting goalie on the toughest team to score on in the entire Metropolitan Junior Hockey League.

“We found stuff around the house to use as pads,” Murphy said. “I really liked the gear that goalies had and that kind of stuck and I started getting into it.”

By the time he was 8, Murphy was the goalie for the Richmond Rattlers when they won a national roller hockey championship. Murphy continued for many years as one of the nation’s top roller hockey goalies in his age group, but friends convinced him to try ice hockey as well.

Two seasons of AAA youth hockey with the Washington Little Caps, where Murphy was often peppered with shots, fast-forwarded his development as an ice hockey goalie.

Now, as Richmond tries to make the move from Metropolitan League runner-up to champion in just its third season, Murphy is both stopping and moving pucks.

“He moves the puck excellent,” Generals coach and general manager R.C. Lyke said. “He can move the puck just like a defenseman. It gives us a real big advantage, having a goalie like that who plays the puck as well as he does helps us break out of the zone much easier.”

More importantly, Lyke said Murphy can be counted on to make the big save. That was evident a year ago when the Generals were on their way to the league final.

Murphy picked up the most playing time in a three-way rotation that included World Junior Championships participants Kuroiwa Yoshihiro from Japan and Nazarovs Kristaps from Latvia.

Although Murphy spent two games as a backup who dressed but did not play with the Johnstown Tomahawks of the Tier II North American Hockey League, he has spent the rest of this season with Richmond. Murphy is one of just six players back from 26 on last year’s roster.

Murphy got the Generals off to a fast start even when he was facing 30-plus shots for each of the first 10 games. That workload has been reduced all the way to 19 and 25 shots during shutouts in two of his last four appearances.

“We have a big defense that is extremely physical and is really clearing things out,” Lyke said.

And that defense is backed by Murphy, who seems to come natural to the leadership that is part of his position.

“His biggest success comes from his maturity and his composure,” Lyke said. “He has a very calming presence. He doesn’t jump around a lot. He’s extremely vocal.”

Murphy, from nearby Chesterfield, Va., is driven to lead Richmond to a championship in 2013-14. The 19-year-old has a .934 save percentage and 2.20 goals-against average this season.

“That’s absolutely motivation,” he said. “It was so close you could almost touch it, but we fell short. Mentally, you have a goal now, you know how close you can be but fall short, and you know the little things that can happen and change the entire thing.

“One of the roughest experiences with that [2013 championship] game was looking around that room at guys who were 20 years old and that was their last junior game, knowing that was it for them. It’s really rough to see that.

“I know the same situation could happen this year,” Murphy continued. “I’d love that last game to be the national championship game and to be celebrating.”

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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08/25/2015, 3:30pm MDT
By USA Hockey

No one has ever said that officiating, and especially officiating ice hockey, was easy. Rule knowledge, communication skills, fitness, skating and a natural presence are just some of the skills necessary to be a successful official.  Some possess more of these skills and those are the officials who advance to higher levels. But regardless of the level achieved or the skill set the official possesses, the one quality that should be equal among every official is a high level of integrity.

The national official staff members, along with our volunteer referees-in-chief and local supervisors, have heard growing concerns over a decreasing level of integrity among our youth hockey officials. It’s sometimes said that no one is holding them accountable. A portion of this perception is likely a typical “blame the officials” mentality, but some anecdotal evidence suggests there is also some merit to this concern. That’s alarming to USA Hockey, as it affects the credibility of our entire program, along with every member it represents. The blunt truth is this: even one official who isn’t on the up and up can and will damage the credibility of all officials who do take pride in the integrity of their work.

Whether we like it or not, officials are under a microscope, and by the nature of the business, are held to a very high standard. When we signed up for this officiating gig, we committed ourselves to represent the game of hockey, USA Hockey, our local group of officials and ourselves as people of integrity who accept the responsibility and guardianship of enforcing the rules in a fair and consistent manner. Most importantly, we must remember that the game is bigger than all of us and that the game itself is what we serve. Those who lose sight of that not only compromise the competitive fairness of the games, they also make life more difficult for all of the officials by damaging the credibility of the officiating community.

An example of this type of unacceptable behavior occurred last season. A Level 2 adult official tended to work his games with a chip on his shoulder. He often created confrontation with coaches, alienated his younger partners with inaccurate advice and disregarded their help in attempting to get some calls and rule applications right. Even though the help they were providing was correct, he chose to maintain his incorrect position that affected the outcome of several games. He also tended to identify certain players and single them out for various infractions and/or on-ice lectures as a means of emphasizing his authority.

Once the trends were identified, concerns were voiced by several parents and coaches to the local assigner and supervisor, who acknowledged they had never seen the official’s work, but would keep throwing him out there working the same teams and levels that had expressed concerns regarding his attitude. This included intentionally assigning him a playoff game involving the coach who was the most vocal in expressing concerns. This official was then instructed to “throw the coach out if he says anything.”

That playoff game went without a hitch – a tight 2-1 game with a couple of close off-side plays and maybe an icing or two missed. In the post-game dressing room, the official in question, in the presence of his partners and the officials scheduled to work the next game, said, “It’s always a great day when you can make one or both of the coaches mad. It’s too bad the white team coach didn’t want to play along today.” The partners sat there in silence until finally a 12-year-old Level 1 official who was working the next game said, “I don’t think that’s right. We’re not supposed to bait coaches.”

The official got dressed quickly and left the room without saying another word. Kind of ironic that it was the innocent 12-year-old that seemed to “get it” and instill a sense of accountability among those in the room. Imagine how any 12-year-old player feels on the ice when they see the official(s) displaying an attitude that is simply not to the standard the game deserves. And yes, more often than not, they can see through those who do not have the level of integrity expected.

Fortunately, these types of officials are few and far between. But they do exist and to simply stick our heads in the sand and not address the concern is irresponsible. Each of us, as officials, has an obligation to behave in a professional manner at all times and take our role seriously. We have made a commitment to approach each game with the understanding that the game is about the players and we should be invisible until the players require us to appear as a result of infractions that occur. Respect is a two-way street and simply putting on the sweater with the USA Hockey crest suggests respect is warranted, but only if supported by your actions.

USA Hockey has an obligation to create a non-threatening environment that promotes respect for officials and an opportunity for officials to improve through education and evaluation. USA Hockey does this through playing rules, points of emphasis, zero tolerance policies and comprehensive education programs for officials, coaches, parents and players.

In return, the game expects USA Hockey officiating members to bring a professional image to every contest and an attitude that creates a positive environment and makes the game better. We realize everyone makes mistakes – it’s part of the game. However, laziness or unprofessional behavior is unacceptable and being creative in rule enforcement and not holding players/coaches accountable for infractions will only make the next team of officials’ jobs much more difficult and set them up for failure.

The reality is that the game official must always hold themselves to the highest level of integrity and behavior both on and off the ice. Maybe that’s fair, or maybe not, but it is the expectation we are required to meet.

As we head into the 2015-16 season, ask yourself if you are willing to meet that expectation. If the answer is yes, welcome back and we look forward to a great season.

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