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Monday, January 24, 2005

Q and A with the Captain

I am new to the writing scene, but I have a love for hockey and in particular, a love for MTU hockey. This year has had little for the die hard fans to get excited about, that is until now. Many of the real fans (I think that includes me) have stayed optimistic for the entire year so it is great seeing what the team has done since the beginning of the year. It is not everyday that we have a team that has some of the best players in the country, and the most exciting line to watch. Recently Mr. Colin Murphy (CM) gave me, a Michigan College Hockey Online writer (MCH), the opportunity to ask him a few questions. I would like to say thank you to Colin Murphy and say that he is a class act on and off the ice. Mr Baker would be happy if he was given that honor.

(MCH): As the captain, you have to be a leader on and off the ice. It shows how well you and the coaching staff have done there jobs keeping the moral high. How hard was it to keep the confidence there and a positive team spirit when you only won 1 of the first 18 games?

(CM): It was extremely tough for the whole program to only be winning 1 game out of 18 in the first half. I think our coaching staff did a great job with always keeping us positive as a group and not getting down on us. They say you have to go through rough times before you can hit the glory and we definitely did that. Our players showed a lot of heart and dedication through the whole process and it is nice to see us getting rewarded for that now. The best part of it is we are winning now and we can't wait to get to practice everyday. Guys are having fun.

(MCH): Since Taggart Desmet has been back, the DMC line has been together, and have been phenomenal. Is it as fun playing with Desmet and Chris Conner as it is for us fans to watch? What do each bring to the line that make it work so good?

(CM): Desmet and Conner are both very gifted and special players. It makes the game a lot easier for me knowing I have those two on my line. We all bring different qualities as players and I think when you blend them all together we make for a pretty scary line for opponents to play against. We all work very hard in practice and games and that’s a huge reason why we succeed. Coach Jamie Russell gives us a lot of leeway to make plays and be creative with the puck and that always helps. He has a great system for us and it fits right in with the way we all play. Conner brings speed and quickness to the line, he is a very smart player with the puck and is a very gifted goal scorer. Desmet and myself our similar players, we like to make plays. We're obviously not as fast as Conner so we find ourselves giving him the puck and letting him take care of the rest. Me and Dezzy see the ice really well and generate a lot of our scoring chances off the rush. Communication is a major reason why we have so much success.

(MCH): Now that you are in the last half of your last year, what would be your ideal finish of your playing time here at Tech? What is a realistic ending for this team this year?

(CM): Now that this is my last year my ideal ending would obviously be to make the final 5 and go on to win the National Title. I think if we keep winning the way we are we have the opportunity. A realistic ending would definitely be to make the final 5 and compete for the championship.

(MCH): What has been your best memory as a Husky?

(CM): My best memory as a Husky would be the day I was named captain for my senior season. I have won individual awards such as MVP, Rookie of the Year and scoring titles, but none of them come close to being named captain. We have a great group of guys here and I was honored to be named the leader of this team.

(MCH): The coaches, the team leaders, and the fans have seen many freshmen play this year, what is your conclusion on the freshmen class? Do you see any stand outs?

(CM):
I think they are all coming along very well. They are all getting quality playing time and making the most of it. It is a huge jump from juniors to make a college lineup and they have all made a good transition. Tyler Shelast has had a great year so far and has produced a lot of goals. Jimmy Kerr and Malcolm Gwilliam have both played solid minutes for us. They both work extremely hard and have chipped in offensively when needed. On defense, Jake Wilkins and Mark Malekoff have both played great as Freshman. They are solid D men and will have a great 4 years at Tech. Jordan Foote was injured ths year but was playing well before that. Kevin Hachey is a goalie we picked up this year and he has played limited minutes. He will be looked at to log a lot of minutes next year as Cam is a senior.

(MCH): With all the hype early in the season on Chris Conner, did you feel that you could come in and play "under the radar"?

(CM): Chris Conner is the most exciting player in College Hockey and he had a lot of early hype as far as awards he would receive at end of year. I know what kind of player he is and him getting all the attention didn’t effect me or the way I play. I think it was great that he got all the hype because he deserves it after the year he had last year.

(MCH): Now that you have emerged as the point leader on the team, do you notice more attention on you by opposing defenses?

(CM): I think the attention has always been there since my freshman year. I have put up some decent numbers in 4 years and you can never overlook that as an opponent.

(MCH): Do you allow yourself to get caught up in individual stats through out the year? What about the Hobey Baker Award?

(CM): I like to check the stats to see how I'm doing but I don’t get caught up in it too much. I try and focus a lot on what I can do to get better as a hockey player and not worry about where I am in the standings as far as scoring. The Hobey Baker award would be awesome to get. There have been so many great hockey players to win it and to even be thought of as one them is great. It would be great for me and the Michigan Tech program to have someone from our team win it or even be a finalists.

(MCH): I know that you have been asked this before, but as a family man myself, How do you find the time for your wife and child, hockey and school?

(CM): I'm a very busy guy. When I'm not at the rink or school I am spending all the time I have with my wife Michelle and son Easton. Balancing it is hard to do but Michelle has been so helpful and understanding of my situation it makes things a lot easier. She’s a great wife and an even better mother so it works out well. So I don’t get much time to relax but it is all worth it. Being a dad, hockey player, student and husband is
just unreal.

(MCH): You have had a great career here, you have been an excellent leader, given all the fans much to be happy with and will be missed and not forgotten. On that note, can we expect to see you playing hockey after MTU?

(CM): Well hockey is everything to me, after MTU I plan on playing hockey at the highest level possible, here that takes me who knows, but I do plan on furthering my career as a hockey player. I think with my success at MTU it has set me up for some options to play pro somewhere, which will be great.

(MCH): Is their anything that you wish to add, or would like me to include in this write up?

(CM): I just want to thank Coach (Jamie) Russell, (Ian) Kallay, (Pat) Mikesch, teammates and everyone involved in the program for being so helpful over the last 4 years. Trying to balance hockey, school and my family was hard to do and none of it would be possible without their help. Also my family and Michelle’s family for all their help and support. It is all greatly appreciated. Look for Tech to be climbing the ladder the rest of the year and for years to come. My stay has been special at Tech and I will cherish all the memories. Thanks to all the alumni and Tech fans for supporting us over the years.

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