Marshall Murphy: The man behind the mask

Alex Weiss/ Editor

Marshall Murphy ‘24 is the reigning NE10 Goalie of the year and is determined to bring a championship title to the St. Michael’s College Men’s Hockey team. 

   Murphy’s career began in Little Canada, Minn. when he was five years old and hockey was simply a game.

   “We learn how to skate before we can walk. Hockey is part of life there, it’s rooted in the culture and the communities,” Murphy said.

   The goalie of the year did not always play goalie.

   “I actually still skated out as a player in games until I was in 5th grade. It wasn’t until I was about 8 or 9 years old that I decided I wanted to make it [goalie] my position,” Murphy said.

   When Murphy first started playing hockey as a kid, every player was given a chance to put on goalie gear and play the position. At the end of each season players are allowed to take the gear home for the offseason.

   “My turn to use it came and went and I liked the position but hadn’t fallen in love with it yet.

   “As luck would have it, my brother and I ended up with the gear at the end of the season, so we decided to hold onto it and use it over the summer. After that, I stayed in the position full time.”

   During Murphy’s childhood, he met Steve Barret, a volunteer goalie coach, the man who would teach Marshall the foundations on how to be an athlete.

   “I used to just go out there like playing backyard baseball or football until he started to tell me that I have things to work on and I could really get better at this sport and have an impact on the game,” Murphy said. “But I would have to do the hard work.

   “It’s coming full circle…[Barret] is coming to watch me play in college and it’s just a cool experience.”

   Barret’s influence continued throughout high school.

   “He was always giving me pointers. Talking me through attention to detail, and how it’s okay to get scored on when you’re working on something. To go through that process, and learning that as a kid helped me progress through high school,” Murphy said.

   Murphy knew hockey was going to be the end goal after high school, and that the traditional route of education was not for him.

   “Teachers ask you what you want to do when you graduate high school, but I never knew what I wanted to do, but I knew I wanted to play hockey even though they tell me it’s unrealistic,” Murphy said.

   Murphy continued to climb the ladder from high school directly into the Western States Hockey League (WSHL), a junior hockey organization. 

   Murphy played in Colorado for three years on two different teams: the Superior RoughRiders and the Colorado Eagles, respectively . He holds the WSHL record of 3,373 career saves.

  After that, Murphy decided to come to St. Michael’s College. Due to the three year gap between high school and college, he stepped onto campus as a 20 year-old first-year student.

   “In college, you are playing guys who are four years older than you, taking fifth years as graduate students,” Murphy said. “Everybody’s just bigger, faster, stronger and a little bit smarter. People are going to find ways to exploit every mistake that you make, that’s how you win games.”

   In Murphy’s college career, he has played 36 games, saved over 1,000 goals, and saves, on average, 91.7% of shots. 

   In 2023, he helped lead the team to a record of 14 wins, 12 losses and 1 tie,  a Conference Championship appearance, and earned the Conference Goalie of the Year title.

   “I was really proud, but I got a little bit of imposter syndrome, I didn’t know if I deserved it,” Murphy said. “There was a couple of goalies that had really great seasons and that’re tough to beat. Everybody else who’s gotten this has done so much better than me before. And that proudness wears off after a little bit. 

   “Now I want to win the championship. It’s like that ladder’s still there, even when you do get recognized as playing well, on a certain level, you just always find something else to reach for.”

    On the path to the championship last season, the Purple Knights beat Assumption 7-3 in the semi-finals.

   According to Murphy, a factor in the home win was to the fans.

   “I really think [the fans] helped us win that game and get to the championship, it would have been real tough to win without the fans. Once the guys started scoring goals all the fans just erupted every time we scored. It was the funnest game I’ve ever been a part of.”

   In March of 2023, St. Michael’s College took on St. Anselm College in the Conference Championship game.

   Murphy would not let the experience be taken for granted.

   “My goalie coach told me ‘you only get to play in so many championship games in your life and some people never get a chance. When you get there, look around and soak it in,’” Murphy said.

   Murphy allowed 5 goals. The Purple Knights lost 5-1.

   “If you win, great. If you lose, a lot of the pressure falls on you, even if it was your fault or not,” Murphy said. “You don’t really have anybody else when you’re out on the ice, so if you aren’t able to have control of your thoughts you can fail to pressure quickly. It’s really just that kind of mental battle.”

   Murphy said that the pressure is a highlight and a key aspect of the game.

   “I can have a direct impact on the game. There’s a lot of pressure to do well and that’s something that grew on me as I got older.

   “Yeah, you get blamed for the losses, but you also get maybe more credit than you deserve when the team wins. 

   “I think there is something to be said about the feeling you get when you make a save that probably should have been a goal, there’s nothing like seeing the faces of the opposing players when you do something like that. 

   “It makes you forget about all the goals you’ve given up!”

   Without hockey, Murphy’s goals in life are simple.

   “I always thought it would be cool to have, like, some kind of coffee shop, I don’t even drink coffee, but having regulars and being able to talk to people every day,” Murphy said. “If there wasn’t hockey in my life, I would keep it low-key, talk with people, and just appreciate life…”

   This outlook bleeds into the ice.

   “An underrated part of the position is the view that you get of the game. I see everything that goes on, the play, the benches, the fans, everything. It makes you appreciate the game more; you get to see the best parts of every game,” Murphy said.

   As good as Murphy is, he did not become the NE10 Goalie of the Year overnight.

   “It’s safe to say that I am who I am today because of all the hard work that they have put in to make me a better person and player,” Murphy said, “I look back on my career and it’s hard for me to believe that I have gotten to where I am today. 

   “I think the value of hard work and discipline that my parents and coaches have instilled in me have helped make me the player I am today. I’m so lucky and grateful to have such an awesome family and great support from my coaches both past and present.”

   As the season continues, Murphy said he and the Purple Knights have two things in mind: proving people wrong, and winning the championship.

   “We’re trying to win it this year, and we have Saint A’s circled on the calendar, ready to go. The NE10 just released a preseason poll that had them picked number one, and us number two. F*** that. Like, f*** that. We are taking them down.”