Penn State Hockey: Nittany Lions Add Depth As Murray Joins The Fold
Penn State coach Guy Gadowsky knows how important team chemistry is. Once you have it, you don't touch it. Especially in the case of the Nittany Lions who have lost just twice all season, good enough for a No.4 ranking nationally.
Even changing up the line combination runs the risk of tipping the delicate balance.
So adding a completely new player to the equation? That's a challenge all on its own, perhaps even something worth avoiding all together.
But then Gadowsky talked to the now newest Nittany Lion, Brett Murray.
“In all the conversations about it, the best statement I heard through all of it was from Brett himself,” Gadowsky said on Monday evening. “He said, ‘I know for the rest of my career, I’m going to have to earn every minute of ice time that I get. I have no problem starting now.’ And I loved that. That statement alone made us think, ‘This will work out fine.’”
So Penn State has added another big bodied forward to the equation in Murray, a lanky 6-foot-5 frame that will added a bit more to the mix as the Nittany Lions look to push towards a first even Big Ten title and NCAA tournament bid.
While the midseason addition is slightly unorthodox, Murray will burn a season of eligibility for just half a year of playing, it was part of the plan all along. The only hurdle coming in the form of some eligibility issues, and Murray's affiliation with the Buffalo Sabres, playing the early part of the year in the USHL.
“Since he was going to play in the USHL for the first half of the year, they [Sabres] wanted to see his development there before making sure this was where he was going to end up,” Gadowsky said. “If he didn’t transition really well at the USHL level, then it didn’t make sense for him to join us mid-season. However, he played extremely well and transitioned very well and showed that he was ready to play at the NCAA level.”
“When that plan was in place, we hadn’t won a game yet or lost a game,” Gadowsky added. “We didn’t know at that point what our record would be. But when it was finalized, we were 13-1-1, but that’s something that he [Murray] understood.”
With seven goals and 13 assists in 27 games with the Youngstown Phantom, Murray has proven to be plenty capable, but for now he's just looking to find his place on one of the nation's hottest teams. According to Gadowsky he might find that place "soon" with a heavy implication that Murray would see the ice this weekend against Michigan State.
As far as the newest addition to the team, he's just looking to play the same kind of hockey that got him this far already.
“You just have to learn the systems, learn the way they play, keep working out,” Murray said, “and when you get your shot, don’t think twice and go as hard as you can.”