Wade Murphy’s summer was short but sweet.
After not being selected during the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, the Victoria native was invited to the Calgary Flames rookie camp, an experience he said was unreal.
“I was kind of overwhelmed,” said Murphy, one of two assistant captains for the Penticton Vees. “So many good players and prospects, seeing the college guys there and asking what’s it like. Just to be at the next level, yeah it was a really good experience for myself.”
What he noticed on the ice is everyone is so quick and they can pass the puck. The goaltenders aren’t too bad either. Being amongst prospects, Murphy fit right in.
Now he wants to use that experience to helps the Vees repeat as RBC Cup champions.
“I want to be a better player,” said Murphy, leading the Vees with seven points in four games.
During camp and exhibition, Murphy skated like a man on a mission. The process of improving his game includes getting stronger and quicker. While spending time at the lake was part of his summer relaxation, he also worked out every day.
One thing Murphy did off the ice as he returned to Penticton was deciding to de-commit from Merrimack University. He admits it was risky move, but felt it would work out in the end.
“I just thought it would open my doors up and to see more options,” said Murphy. “I committed pretty early last year. I thought it was the right move.”
His decision to change his mind paid off as the North Dakota Fighting Sioux expressed interest then flew him down. He fell in love.
“Just the tradition there. It has an unbelievable rink,” he said. “So much passion there. All the fans love them there. Coaching staff is great and players are nice. I think I will fit in real well there.”
While Murphy is happy with his start playing with fellow veteran Sam Mellor, who just committed to Western Michigan University, and 16-year-old Ryan Gropp, his early success has been put on hold. Murphy received a five-minute major for a dangerous hit and a game misconduct with 34 seconds left in a 4-2 loss to the Prince George Spruce Kings on Sept. 15. That has resulted in him serving a two-game suspension.
“It was just an overall frustrating game,” said Murphy, who felt bad about the hit.
Now Murphy will be cheering his teammates on as they head to Salmon Arm Friday, then to West Kelowna Saturday. The Vees will also be without rookie Louie Nanne, who has returned home for personal reasons.
“It just means that other guys get a chance to be put in different positions,” said Vees coach-general manager Fred Harbinson. “Hopefully they will be able to excel at it.”
Harbinson has been putting his players through battle drills during practice.
“It was all about competing and one-on-one battles,” he said. “Winning battles in small spaces.”
Harbinson chalked up the team’s loss to the Spruce Kings to a poor start in the first period in which they gave up two goals. The first one was on the power-play.
The Vees will have their home-opener on Sept. 29 when they host the Powell River Kings.