Arizona Coyotes: Connor Murphy’s IIHF Experience

Connor Murphy Had A Blast At IIHF World Championship Games

Arizona Coyotes young defenseman, Connor Murphy participated in the tournament representing Team USA, and went home with another medal (bronze) to add to his collection. He played for Team USA at this same event last year. Plus, he won a gold medal at the 2011 under-18 World Junior Championship in 2011. Then, in 2013 he won another gold (let’s see that’s two gold, one bronze so far…) when he was a Team USA member of the World Junior Championship tournament.

Murphy has not experienced the thrill of playing in a NHL playoff game (maybe he will soon…) but, playing in front of 17,000 fans (sorta like a sellout at Gila River arena) in Prague, and defeating the home town Czech Republic 3-0 in the consolation game was a highlight for him to experience.

Alexander Kitarov (L) of Belarus and Connor Murphy of USA vie for the puck during the group B preliminary round match between USA and Belarus during the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship at CEZ Arena in Ostrava, Czech Republic on May 7, 2015. AFP PHOTO /JOE KLAMAR

“That game was definitely one of the highlights,” Murphy said. “I’ve never played in the NHL playoffs but the atmosphere in that arena for that game is what I imagine the NHL playoffs are like. The building was big and it was packed and loud, and the fans were very, very energetic. It was really fun to play in front of that.”

The young USA team made some headlines by placing third in the annual 16-nation tournament. The Americans won six of seven games in the Preliminary Round to capture the Group B title beating out Russia and Finland. After beating Switzerland, 3-1, in the quarterfinals, Team USA lost to Russia, 4-0, in the semifinals. That set up the challenging Bronze Medal Game against the host Czech Republic.

“We were pleasantly surprised (to win the bronze),” Murphy said. “Not many people gave us a chance. Everyone seemed to think we were just this really young team thrown together with a bunch of college guys and that we wouldn’t go very far, but I think we surprised a lot of people. It was disappointing that we didn’t win the gold medal, but it was still great to go home with something.”

Recent Coyotes Stories 

[catlist name=”arizona-coyotes” numberposts=3 excludeposts=this]

Murphy teamed up with fellow Arizona Coyotes player John Moore, creating some defensive chemistry which may overflow when the two start next season together. Murphy also got valuable experience killing penalties, while averaging sixteen minutes of ice time a game.

His bone crushing checks have always impressed me mainly because when you look at his face —  he looks 17. He’s 22, and an up and coming defenseman for the team. The experience of playing internationally was a rewarding one for him in many respects. He and his teammates Mark Arcobello and John Moore visited the historic city of Prague, and even toured the Auschwitz concentration camp memorial in neighboring Poland.

Murphy described the experience as “eerie and a surreal place.” He mentioned you leave there with a depressed feeling, knowing something important happened there.

He will be back at it in June training for the upcoming training camp in September.