Hamilton High grad Murphy succeeding in Maine with USPHL 18U squad
There is a world – and possibly many worlds – of difference between Arizona high school hockey and Midget 18U hockey in New England.
Chandler native Patrick Murphy is a worldly kind of young man, so he is happy to experience the best of all of these. After a very successful four-year career at Hamilton High School, Murphy is now skating for the Twin City Lightning 18U team in Auburn, Maine.
The Lightning is the new identity for the organization formerly known as the Maine Moose, which won the 2019 18U Tier II national championship. Murphy has had his own valuable experiences at Tier II national championships with the Arizona Hockey Union Knights.
“I played my first hockey with the VOSHA Mustangs,” said Murphy, a center. “Later on, I played with the AHU Knights where I was fortunate enough to go to the Tier II national championships twice.”
Murphy learned hockey from his father, who had played as well. Although Murphy grew up playing multiple sports, he found himself drawn more and more to hockey.
“I was pretty active as a kid and hockey just became the thing I loved to do,” said Murphy.
At Hamilton High School, Murphy played alongside a future Lightning teammate in Liam Conway, who joined the team in Nov. 2019 after starting out in a Tier III junior league. Conway, a defenseman, had played a season prior in New England for the Islanders Hockey Club 18U team, so he paved the Hamilton-High-to-New-England path early for Murphy.
“High school hockey was a ton of fun, and it was great being able to play with friends and have less pressure than playing travel hockey,” said Murphy. “Additionally, high school hockey in Arizona improves every year with more and more travel players becoming involved.”
Over the offseason following the 2018-19 season, Murphy decided to test the higher-level hockey waters and entered the CCM Showcase in Denver, Colo. There, he played on a showcase team against his future coach, impressing the Lightning’s Matt Lavallee. The two talked about Murphy, who is a 2001-born player and thus in his final 18U eligibility year, of coming to Maine and working towards a potential Tier II junior spot in the future.
The Lightning is the direct in-house Midget affiliate of the Tier II Twin City Thunder in the USPHL’s National Collegiate Development Conference.
“I thought it would be in my best interest to come to Maine, with it being in New England where there is a geographical advantage, in being closer to a lot of eastern colleges,” said Murphy. “I have had a great experience with the Lightning, and I have formed many great relationships with my teammates and coaches. The teams in the USPHL are all solid from top to bottom, and something I’m proud to take part in.”
Right off the bat this season, Murphy showed what a Chandler kid can do in Tier I 18U hockey, scoring a goal and two assists for three points in his first game. Ironically, this was against Conway’s former Islanders Hockey Club team, though Conway was no longer there.
Conway first joined the Lightning for a Nov. 8-9 series against the Northwood School’s prep team. Together, the two have helped the Lightning go 7-3-0-1 since being reunited. As of mid-January, the Lightning were two points behind Pennsylvania’s Palmyra Black Knights for the overall lead in the American Division of the USPHL 18U league.
Even with the playoffs coming up in late February, there was still plenty of time to put together a rally and take the 18U crown. Murphy was certainly putting in the work to make that happen.
“One area that has seen a lot of improvement over the season is my skating,” said Murphy. “Our coaches both have experience with power skating, and it has shown throughout our team. Also, playing in the USPHL has made me a more accurate shooter, and has helped me to process the game at a higher speed.”
— Joshua Boyd/USPHL.com
(Feb. 6, 2020)