SCHENECTADY — After playing in just two games his freshman year at Northeastern, goalie Connor Murphy was the Huskies’ No. 1 goalie last season, playing in all 21 games.
While the Hudson Falls native said he was happy at Northeastern, there was something gnawing at Murphy. He decided he needed a change of scenery.
That change brought him near his home.
Murphy transferred to Union College, and is excited to suit up for the Dutchmen, who return to action this season after sitting out last year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“It was more of a decision based on the hockey side of things,” Murphy said Thursday before a team workout at Messa Rink. “I just felt like things weren’t going to go my way at Northeastern this year. I just kind of felt I needed a fresh start to keep the ball rolling instead of having some setbacks that I thought I was going to have.”
And what were those setbacks?
“It was just more personal things with my goalie partner [and] a playing time sort of thing,” said Murphy, who posted a 9-9-3 record with a 2.72 goals-against average, a .910 save percentage and two shutouts for the Huskies last season. “Mostly, it was just for myself, hoping to get on the ice more and getting to play as many games as I can.
“I had a great experience there. There was nothing wrong with the guys or the coaching staff. Everything was great. It was just a personal experience that I needed to change.”
Union head coach Rick Bennett said he hasn’t committed to a No. 1 goalie just yet. But of the four goalies on the roster, Murphy has the most experience. Junior Merek Pipes relieved Darion Hanson and played the final 3:52 of a 6-1 loss to UMass on Oct. 18, 2019. Hanson graduated in June and transferred to UConn to play as a graduate student.
Union’s other goalies are junior Garrett Nieto and freshman Joe Sharib.
“Just the fact that we brought in another goaltender proves the fact of [needing an experienced goalie],” Bennett said. “We had a goalie with about five minutes of playing time coming in. Having Connor commit here was really big, someone that had some playing experience, but also could help out the current goaltenders.”
Murphy was thankful to be able to play last year through the pandemic.
“It was huge,” Murphy said. “Obviously, I felt bad for the teams in the ECAC that weren’t able to play like Union. I was grateful to be able to play last year. I took it as an opportunity to show what I had and do my best. It kind of worked out in my favor.”
When Murphy entered the transfer portal, it didn’t take long for Union to reach out.
“He put his name in,” Bennett said. “Within six seconds, I was talking to [assistant coach] John Ronan. That was probably one of the fastest turnarounds in recruiting history. Those are the ones you enjoy.”
“They were the first ones to contact me,” Murphy said. “I was pretty excited to hear about that, obviously, [from] being around here. Being close to home was a big part of it. I did have contact with other schools. Union was [the] one that stood out to me the most. They have a very good program here. They always have. I just wanted to come and be a part of the culture here.”
Murphy said he attended a few Union games as a kid, but he was busy playing youth hockey for the Adirondack Youth Hockey Association. He moved on to Clifton Park, playing for U16 and U18 teams.
Murphy then played Canadian Junior “A” hockey. Playing for Carleton Place in the Central Canada Hockey League, Murphy posted a 31-8-3 record with a league-best 2.07 GAA and a .917 save percentage as he led the team to the CCHL final.
Bennett has been impressed by what he has seen with the 6-foot-4 Murphy.
“Just a calming presence on the ice,” Bennett said. “Obviously, I really like his size in net and movements. I can’t get too technical because we’ve only had five practices. As far as the locker room and fitting in right away, he’s fit in seamlessly, and I think that’s just his character.”