FARIBAULT, MN – In her three years at Shattuck-St. Mary’s, Maureen Murphy ‘17 has had a great impact on the ice for the Sabres. Tomorrow when she hits the ice with Team USA at the IIHF World Championships, she hopes to do the same. The following article, which was featured in The Buffalo News, talks of Murphy’s time as a Sabre and soon-to-be time as a member of Team USA.
Maureen Murphy makes a great first impression on the ice.
The follow-up ones also have been grand, but it’s that knack for making a great first impression that has opened the doors to prestigious hockey playing opportunities for the former City Honors student.
-- Shattuck St. Mary’s in Minnesota.
-- Division I scholarship to Providence.
-- Member of Team USA.
All are attention-getting achievements, but being in the USA Hockey pipeline qualifies as something more for Murphy, a USA Today Pre-season All-American selection. Murphy is believed to be just the second Western New Yorker to ever make the final roster for the United States Women’s Under-18 National Team.
Shattuck St. Mary’s leading scorer looks to help Old Glory add to its gold-medal collection this month, as Team USA opens up play at 9:30 a.m. (EST) Saturday in the IIHF World Championships against Russia at PSG Arena in Zlin, Czech Republic.
“It’s pretty exciting,” said the 5-foot-4, 17-year-old Murphy, who leads the Sabres with 28 goals and 48 points in 30 games. “It’s something you dream about growing up. Having the opportunity is pretty humbling.”
The tournament runs through Jan. 14 with the U.S. slated to face old friend Canada to conclude preliminary-round play on Jan. 10 at 9:30 a.m. Medal-round play starts Jan. 11. Team USA has made the championship game each of the nine years the tournament has been held, winning five gold medals – including the past two titles.
Buffalo Beauts defenseman Emily Pfalzer of Getzville also represented the United States in two Under-18 women’s world tournaments. Pfalzer, who capped her Boston College career earning first team All-American honors in 2015, has helped U.S. teams win three gold medals in world tournaments (including the past two with the main national team) since making her international debut in the Under-18 event in 2010.
The chance most hockey players who lace them up dream of attaining has become a reality for Murphy because of her ability to blend world-class work ethic with her world-class skills. Murphy has a hard shot, a nose for the puck and isn’t afraid to go to the tough areas to score.
Coaches love that in a player. It’s no wonder longtime Shattuck St. Mary’s coach Gordie Stafford is eager to talk about Murphy – who played youth hockey at one time for the Buffalo Bisons – when the opportunity presents itself.
He first noticed Murphy about four years ago at a USA Hockey camp for 13-14 year olds. While lots of talented players get invited to these events – it’s how the organization identifies future prospects for U.S. National Teams, often it takes more than just a player’s skill-set to separate one’s self from others looking for elite opportunities.
What struck Stafford about Murphy at that camp?
“Her tenacity,” he said. “If you watch her play, that’s the first thing you’ll see. She’s around the puck. She wants the puck. … She’s always on the puck.
“If you watch a game, there are some players you can go ‘where the heck was that player?’ Then there are others who are around the puck. There’s a magnetism about those players. She’s not going to play a game in which you do not notice her.”
That ability opened the door for Murphy to leave Buffalo and head to the nationally renowned prep school located in Faribault, Minn., to open her sophomore year. After helping the Sabres’ Under-16 team win the USA Hockey national title in that age group, she scored 33 goals last season in helping the main prep team capture the 19-under national championship.
Murphy is one of seven Sabres participating in the Under-18 worlds, with two of her in-season teammates skating for rival Canada.
The rest are on Team USA, including defenseman Natalie Buchbinder of Fairport. They continue a tradition of Shattuck players earning the chance to skate for the Red, White and Blue.
The Americans’ roster consisted of five Sabres last year. The year before that, four Shattuck players made the team. Being around elite players helps develop future ones.
“I think being in the situation where I could follow in someone footsteps just benefitted me and helped me to accomplish a dream that I have had for a long time,” Murphy said.
“There’s got to be something innate,” Stafford said. “She just has that in her character but also at our school there are a lot of high level players and a tradition. She’s worked hard at living up to that tradition. … She works at it every day whether it’s on the ice or in the weight room or taking care of how she eats and sleeps. She is an athlete. She takes it very seriously.”
Murphy seized her opportunity to secure a spot on Team USA during the summer participating in a three-game series in Calgary against Canada. After not playing in the first game of that set – a loss, she played in the next two games – both wins. She scored in each of those contests, including the series clinching goal.
Only two players on the USA’s 22-woman roster did not suit up for that series. It’s safe to say, Murphy must have made a great impression.
“She works hard every day to try to get better,” Stafford said. “She’s on the ice every morning at 6:30 no matter what working on her game, working on her shot. She really has that intrinsic motivation to get better and it’s nice to see that pay dividends at the end. … Her hard work has resulted in a lot of good things.”
Having a chance to compete for a gold medal is something Murphy has always imagined. Now that she’s living the dream …
“You can’t even describe it,” she said. “You just hope for the best and if you do win you’re grateful and it’s humbling.”