Opening Faceoff: Union’s Murphy enjoys experience at Red Wings development camp

Union College goalie Connor Murphy makes a save during Detroit Red Wings development camp last week in Detroit (Photo courtesy Detroit Red Wings)

Union College goalie Connor Murphy makes a save during Detroit Red Wings development camp last week in Detroit (Photo courtesy Detroit Red Wings)

Union rising senior goalie Connor Murphy learned plenty during his time at Detroit Red Wings development camp, and he is hoping to use that experience to help him for his senior season for the Dutchmen.

Murphy, a Hudson Falls native, talked about his time at the camp, which ran July 10-14 in Detroit.

“It was a great experience,” Murphy said during a phone interview Tuesday. It’s a super honor just to get invited, first of all. I really enjoyed my time there. The whole [coaching] staff in general did a really good job of making sure that we enjoyed our time there. It was kind of a stress-free environment, where they were basically just kind of focused on teaching us new things, getting us to work on certain aspects of our game and stuff like that. So it was really a stress-free time for me, and it was just a lot of fun.”

Murphy had a solid first season for the Dutchmen after transferring from Northeastern. He posted a 14-18-3 record with a 2.66 goals-against average, a .919 save percentage and three shutouts. He set a program record making 1,060 saves. That caught the attention of the Red Wings.

“I actually received a call from Phil Osaer, who was their goaltending scout and head development coach,” Murphy said. “He actually reached out to my advisor at the end of the season, probably a couple of weeks after we finished. He just invited me to the camp and said that they would love to have me there.

“I had one other offer to go to a different camp, but I decided ultimately to go to Detroit because they reached out first. I just thought that was the best decision, and I’m very glad I did because it was a really good time.”

Getting the pro perspective on how things are done was eye-opening to Murphy. He hopes to apply them when the Dutchmen begin preparing for the 2022-23 season.

“Just seeing how everything is done at the pro level,” Murphy said, “just in terms of off-ice recovery, or preparation, working out and things like that, I think it’s really important to see how they do it, and how their staff enforces certain things off the ice, and even on the ice, just like fine-tuning small details and trying to become the best player you can by doing the right things off the ice, which will translate into the honest performance.

“That was the biggest thing that I took out of it, and that was a lot of what they were teaching.”

One of the most exciting aspects of the camp was getting to meet Red Wings general manager and legendary player Steve Yzerman, who led the team to three Stanley Cup titles.

“I talked to him a couple of times,” Murphy said. “I talked to him on the first night that I was there. He just kind of told me that since I was one of the older guys [there] just to kind of help out the younger guys, even though I’ve never been to the camp before. If guys had any questions about anything that I had the answer to, just help them out. It was a good conversation. I talked to him about where I was from, and he mentioned the Adirondack Red Wings [Detroit’s former AHL affiliate] used to play in Glens Falls. We kind of chatted about that a little bit. So it was good.”


A few former Union hockey players were making moves in the pro ranks.

– Jay Varady, who played for the Dutchmen from 1997-2000, was named an assistant coach for the Red Wings. He joins the staff of new head coach Alex Tanguay.

The 44-year-old Varady spent four seasons coaching in the Arizona Coyotes organization, three of those as the head coach of the AHL’s Tucson Roadrunners. He was an assistant coach for the Coyotes during the 2020-21 season.

– Goalie Troy Grosenick, who helped Union reach the 2012 NCAA hockey Frozen Four, signed a contract with the Philadelphia Flyers. Grosenick, 32, posted a 16-6-4 record for the AHL’s Providence Bruins with a 2.00 goals-against average, a .933 save percentage and three shutouts this past season. Grosenick is expected to compete for the backup role to starter Carter Hart. If he doesn’t make the Flyers, Grosenick will be with the Flyers’ AHL affiliate, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.

– Grosenick will be replaced in Providence by his former Union teammate Keith Kinkaid. Kinkaid, who helped Union reach its NCAA tournament at the Division I level in 2011, left the New York Rangers to sign with the Boston Bruins. The 33-year-old Kinkaid, who spent two years in the Rangers organization, was 20-14-3 for the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack this past season. He had a 2.94 GAA, a .904 save percentage and one shutout.

– Forward Spencer Foo, who was a top-10 Hobey Baker Award finalist in 2017, is coming back to North America. Foo, 28, signed a one-year contract with the Vegas Golden Knights. He will most likely play for the team’s AHL affiliate, the Henderson Silver Knights. Foo spent the last three seasons playing for the KHL’s Kunlun Red Star, a team based in Beijing. He had 31 goals and 45 assists in 154 career games.


The RPI men’s and women’s hockey teams recently announced their 2022-23 recruit classes.

The men will have 10 new players.

– Goalie Carson Cherepak, who was 30-7 with a 2.21 GAA and a .921 save percentage for the Manitoba Junior Hockey League’s Dauphin Kings.

– Defenseman Nick Ardanaz, who had four goals and 31 assists in 53 games for the British Columbia Hockey League’s West Kelowna Warriors.

– Defenseman Max Smolinski, who had four goals and 17 assists in 62 games for the U.S. Hockey League’s Fargo Force.

– Defenseman Nick Strom, who had five goals and eight assists in 40 games for Fargo in 2020-21. Strom was on the Western Michigan roster this past season, but didn’t play.

– Forward Finn Brown, who had 15 goals and eight assists in 47 games with the BCHL’s Alberni Valley Bulldogs.

– Forward Brendan Budy, who is transferring from North Dakota. He had a goal in 22 games.

– Forward Danny Ciccarello, who had nine goals and four assists in 26 games for the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s Fort McMurray Oil Barons.

– Forward John Evans, who had 19 goals and 29 assists in 47 games for the BCHL’s West Kolowna Warriors.

– Forward Austin Heidemann, who is transferring from Mercyhurst. He had 12 goals and 16 assists in 38 games.

– Forward Sutter Muzzatti, who had 12 goals and 34 assists in 50 games for the North American Hockey League’s Austin Bruins.

The women added five players. They are forwards Sabrina Beaudoin (John Abbott College), Nina Christof (Selects Academy/German National Team) and Kyley Toye (Lawrenceville School/New Jersey Titans); and defensemen Taryn Jacobs (Southwest U22) and Sophia Jones (Williston Northampton School/Connecticut Polar Bears).

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