Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Owen Murray growing in his freshman season at UMass

The freshman records his first collegiate point against Boston College
Kira Johnson/ Daily Collegain (2022)

When Owen Murray stepped off the ice in the Massachusetts hockey team’s series against Boston College, he may have been disappointed with the result, but he came away with a weight lifted off his shoulders.

In the first game of the series against the Eagles on Friday, Murray skated down the ice from the neutral zone towards the net. Murray found Matt Koopman in front of the net with a perfect pass right to his tape, and Koopman buried it before immediately pointing at Murray, one of his closest friends on the team.

Just like that, Murray had his first collegiate point.

“I fought it for a little bit, thought I had some chances here and there the last few months to get one, didn’t find it,” Murray said on his first point. “Obviously it was a great feeling to get that first one but would have been nice to get it in a winning situation. I’ll ride that confidence and keep pushing to play going forward.”

Murray’s first collegiate point was something that both he and Koopman could have predicted throughout the season. When both the freshman and graduate student are on the ice, they have a steady connection, even if before Friday they didn’t have a goal to show for it.

“We’ve had a few connections here and there throughout the past couple months where he’s either hit me for a chance where I could’ve scored, or I’ve hit him and we’re this close every time,” Murray said about Koopman. “I almost had a feeling that it was going to work out like that for my first point.”

Murray’s first point was a long time coming after not starting his first college season the way he wanted to. In his 16 games, the freshman struggled to find consistent ice time after showing inexperience on the ice.

After putting work in at practice, Murray started to see positive change in his game. In the Minutemen’s (10-15-5, 4-13-3 Hockey East) series against BC, the freshman’s work looked to pay off for him. Head coach Greg Carvel had praised after the game on Friday and then on Saturday gave him more ice time.

“I give [Murray] a lot of credit because he tries real hard,” Carvel said. He’s coachable, he wants to play hard, he wants to do the right things. He’s somebody I’ve seen growth from, and we’ve just tried to reward him with ice time here as of late.”

Murray has been able to admit that he did not get off on the right foot to start the season but also can recognize his growth.

The freshman has worked hard in the last few months to try and see results on the ice. Murray has used the support and guidance of the UMass coaching staff to help his development. He has also typically been the last off the ice along with other members of his class to get extra work in with the coaching staff.

“Some guys go through rocky patches, I would say I was one of them,” Murray said. “I think the biggest thing for me was sticking to the process. Trusting in my ability, trusting what the coaches were saying to me and I found that over these last few month that things were really starting to work out well for me.”

When Murray first came onto the team, Carvel didn’t know if the freshman would be the best fit for the Minutemen. The defenseman is one of the smaller players on the roster and first came in not playing his best game. Lately, though, he’s stepped up more offensively and is also moving around the ice easier in every zone.

“I didn’t know if [Murray] could play here, and I didn’t know how effective he would be,” Carvel said. “He’s started to use his feet really well, he competes. He can really scoot and that’s why he was recruited: to be a puck moving defenseman. We’re starting to see that out of his game.”

Now as a more consistent player in the lineup, Murray has found a spot on the third pairing. This pairing has been the one to have two freshman, allowing the young guys to grow and make mistakes together.

The pairing has mostly had Kennedy O’Connor but on Saturday, Murray was paired with Mikey Adamson.

The third pairing may at times the most inconsistent pairing of the three but it has given the freshmen, like Murray time to learn from their mistakes. It has given Murray comfortability in knowing that the guys he is paired with are the ones he will be spending his four years with.

“You don’t have an older guy to show you the ropes and everything,” Murray said. “You’ve just got to go out there and put your best foot forward every single night and when you can get a lot with each other and work things out things start to go a little bit more smoothly.”

Kayla Gregoire can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @Kaygregoire.

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