ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Rochester Institute of Technology senior forward Sean Murphy has been a great “utility” player for the Tigers, killing penalties and scoring some big goals on occasion, including a huge one at Mariucci Arena his freshman year in a win over Minnesota.
The Owatonna, Minn., native came into the season with 18 career goals and 41 points in 107 contests, looking to have a big senior year. But things started slowly, with Murphy picking up just a single point in his first 10 games.
“I lost my confidence,” he said. “And it takes a while to build it back.”
Murphy definitely has it back now, scoring two unassisted goals to lead the Tigers to a 4-2 win over Connecticut in the Atlantic Hockey semifinals.
In the postgame news conference, Murphy described both of his goals as “lucky.”
“Luck of the Irish, a day late [after St. Patrick's day],” quipped RIT coach Wayne Wilson.
But Murphy has made his own luck, killing penalties and working hard on a line that usually includes Cameron Burt and Adam Hartley. And now the goals are coming. Murphy had only three until Feb. 25, but has four goals in his last four games.
“It’s been frustrating,” he said. “But the confidence has been coming back and I think I’m playing some of my best hockey right now.”
Both of his goals in Friday’s game were a result of going hard to the net and winning battles along the boards. Both were unassisted, the first was short-handed.
At 14:23 of the first period, Murphy won the draw to himself, walked in and put a wrist shot past Connecticut goalie Garrett Bartus. But his second goal was the backbreaker, coming at 16:22 of the third period with the Tigers clinging to a 3-2 lead.
The right winger won a battle along the boards and put a shot on net that eluded Huskies goalie Matt Grogan.
“Just luck,” he said. “I was hoping for a rebound and somehow it went in.
“The bounces have started to come. They weren’t coming earlier in the season.”
But Murphy kept working, and they are now.