College Hockey Notebook: Broncos’ job helped Murray complete his bucket list

In 2006, when Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute was conducting a search for a new men’s hockey coach,

In 2006, when Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute was conducting a search for a new men’s hockey coach, the school almost had an NHL coach ready to take over.

Andy Murray, who had been coaching the Los Angeles Kings from 1999 until being fired late in the 2005-06 season, applied for the job, He came to Troy, interviewed with then-athletic director Ken Ralph and was offered the pos­ition.

Murray thought long and hard about it. But in the end, being able to see two of his children play college hockey was important to him.

Just over five years later, Murray is a college coach. Western Mich­igan hired the 60-year-old Murray on July 26 to replace Jeff Blashill, who resigned to become an assistant coach with Detroit Red Wings. Murray brings the 12th-ranked Broncos (2-0) into the Capital Reg­ion this weekend for a two-game series at Union (1-0), starting tonight at 7.

Murray declined the RPI offer, and that led to Seth Appert being hired to replace Dan Fridgen.

“Ken Ralph was reaching out to some people, and I said that I would certainly be interested in coming in,” Murray said in a telephone interview earlier this week. “I really enjoyed my visit there. I toured the campus with the president [Dr. Shirley Jackson]. She’s a dynamic lady, and a very good recruiter, also. I met the football coach [Joe King, who retired last January]. I was so impressed with him. I met the players. I had a couple of players from Shattuck-St. Mary’s, [ex-Engineer] Ben Barr in particular, who was an assistant at Union. I had an NHL job that was being offered at the time, too, but I felt that I was interested in [RPI].”

The decision that led Murray to decline the offer involved his daughter, Sarah, and one of his two sons, Jordy, who was going to attend Wisconsin. Being able to see them play was extremely important to him. If he was coaching RPI, his weekends would be occupied with the Engineers and there would be no way to see them play.

However, despite an 82-game NHL regular-season schedule, there would be the opportunity to get away to see his kids play. On Dec. 11, 2006, the St. Louis Blues hired Murray to replace Mike Kitchen as head coach.

“In the NHL, you have the odd weekend where I could fly out and watch my kids play,” Murray said. “I felt, at that time, I wanted to have the opportunity to watch my kids play. If I took a pro job, I would have that opportunity.”

Murray had been the coach of the Blues for nearly four seasons when he was fired after 40 games last season after going 17-17-6. He has a 333-278-58-71 career NHL coaching record. The 58 ties happened between 1999-2004, before the NHL introduced the shootout to decide a winner if a game was tied after the five-minute sudden-death overtime period.

He was excited to get the opportunity to take over the Broncos, who are coming off a season in which they went 19-13-10 and reached the NCAA tournament.

“I enjoyed every minute of [being an NHL coach],” Murray said. “But I always felt you only live one life, and I had always respected and admired the guys coaching at the college level. There were some opportunities to get back into the NHL this year again, but I just dec­ided that, at this point, I wanted to try something different, not that I’m closing the door on the NHL.

“I’ve always felt that, on my bucket list, I’ve coached in Europe, coached in the Olympics and World Championships. But I felt that coaching at the college level would be interesting and exciting, and it’s been every bit of that so far.”

Western Michigan opened the season last weekend with two-game series sweep of Alabama-Huntsville.

Familiar face

Broncos junior goalie Nick Pisellini will be the only Bronco who knows what it’s like to play at Messa Rink.

Pisellini played for Quinnipiac in the first half of the 2008-09 season, and faced the Dutchmen at Messa on Nov. 14, 2008. He made 32 saves, including 20 in the third period of Quinnipiac’s 6-3 win.

Pisellini played in 11 games for the Bobcats, going 6-2-1 with a 1.38 goals-against average and a .948 save percentage before withdrawing from school.

Leaman Debut

Former Union coach Nate Leaman makes his Providence College head coaching debut tonight, and it won’t be easy.

The Friars host No. 7 Boston Univ­ersity in a Hockey East matchup at 7 p.m. The game will be televised by NESN.

Providence finished ninth last year and missed the playoffs. That led to the dismissal of coach Tim Army.

The coaches don’t have much faith in the Friars. They were picked to finished last in the 10-team league in the coaches poll. The Friars host Massachusetts on Saturday.

Alber delivers

Boston College junior defenseman Patch Alber (Clifton Park) helped lead the Eagles to the Ice Breaker tournament title last weekend.

Alber scored a goal in Friday’s 5-2 semifinal win over Michigan State. It was Alber’s fifth career goal, and his first since last Nov. 28. Alber had an assist in Saturday’s 6-2 triumph over North Dakota.

Alber was named to the all-tournament team.

Scoring changes

It turns out that Union freshman defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere didn’t get his first collegiate point in Saturday’s 8-1 win over Army.

Gostisbehere was originally credited with an assist on Greg Coburn’s late second-period power-play goal. But after a review of the game tape, the assist was taken away from Gostisbehere and given to Kelly Zajac, making a three-point night for the senior center. Zajac assisted on two of Wayne Simpson’s three goals.

There was one other scoring change, coming on Kevin Sullivan’s game-winning goal in the first per­iod. The assist given to Shaun Stuart has been given to Mat Bodie.

A rout

The Union women’s hockey team continued its mastery of Sacred Heart with a 9-2 rout at Messa Rink last Saturday.

Since dropping a 3-2 decision on Nov. 28, 2003, the Dutchwomen have won the last 20 meetings with the Pioneers. Union has outscored Sacred Heart, 111-35.

The nine goals were a Div­ision I team record. The prev­ious record was eight, done in consecutive games against the Pioneers on Nov. 3-4, 2006.

The 75 shots Union fired in the game are a team record.

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