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Darcy Murphy reflects on "special moment" as he breaks Belfast Giants franchise scoring record

 

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Belfast Giants' Darcy Murphy celebrates

Belfast Giants' Darcy Murphy celebrates

William Cherry/Presseye

Belfast Giants' Darcy Murphy celebrates

He may not have realised it at the time, but Darcy Murphy's empty net goal in the third period of last night's 7-2 win over the Coventry Blaze was rather important.

Dished the pass on the odd man rush with Blair Riley, winger Murphy made no doubt with the finish, which not only secured the victory for the Giants, but broke a long-standing franchise record in the process.

The response from Murphy was no different to usual, no overexuberant celebrations, just a grin and a fist pump for another goal on the season.

It was only when the Giants retreated back to their locker room in the SkyDome that what had happened dawned on Murphy, and it took Adam Keefe to inform him.

"Do you want this puck or do you want one with a Giants logo on it?" asked the head coach with a grin, holding up the one that Murphy scored with that he had retrieved, knowing the significance of the goal.

In what was perhaps an anti-climax to what has been an outstanding individual season for Murphy, his record-breaking goal - his 46th on the season - deserved to be a thunderbolt from the blue-line or a beautifully stick-handled Datsyuk finish rather than an empty-netter.

Still, they all count, and by potting his 46th goal of the regular campaign Murphy overtook Jeffrey Szwez's record to write his name into the Giants history books.

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Get in: Giants ace Darcy Murphy hails his crucial goal against the Devils

Get in: Giants ace Darcy Murphy hails his crucial goal against the Devils

Get in: Giants ace Darcy Murphy hails his crucial goal against the Devils

 

It's no less than he deserves, the 26-year-old Ontario native a proud member of the organisation and one of the most popular with the fanbase after his accidental reveal at the start of the season that he would be returning for his second year with the team.

"An organisation like Belfast, with so much history, it's a really big accomplishment," Murphy said after the game. "It's really a privilege to be in this position, especially with the number of talented players that have come through here.

"It's a proud moment and means a lot to me because of how important this organisation is to me and to the people of Belfast, all the fans and everyone else. It really is a special moment."

Some goal scorers like to keep a running tally of how many they've picked up over the season, however Murphy admits - as was clear by the fact he didn't know his goal was the record-breaker - he hadn't been keeping track.

It's a mark of the man he is, someone who hasn't been taking individual accolades over the team's success, and he's profited accordingly.

"I heard about it from one of the guys earlier, probably a couple of weeks ago, but I didn't realise what it was and I hadn't looked up what I had before this, so it was a bit of a surprise tonight," added the winger.

"I know it's an empty netter but I'll take them whatever way I can get them!"

After a very impressive first season in Belfast after joining from the Tulsa Oilers, in which he scored 34 goals and tallied up 59 points across the course of the campaign, there was hope that Murphy would break out further in his second season.

So it has proven. Clicking on a line early in the season with Blair Riley and David Rutherford, he successfully transitioned onto a line alongside Dustin Johner and fellow Colgate man Kyle Baun later in the season and found just as much success.

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Ice goal: Belfast Giants’ Darcy Murphy pops one into the back of the net against Nottingham Panthers yesterday

Ice goal: Belfast Giants’ Darcy Murphy pops one into the back of the net against Nottingham Panthers yesterday

Ice goal: Belfast Giants’ Darcy Murphy pops one into the back of the net against Nottingham Panthers yesterday

 

With two regular season games remaining and at least two play-off games (you suspect there'll be at least one if not two more after that) to come as well, Murphy has no shortage of chances of hitting a half-century of strikes in one season.

But even with last season under his belt, this season has exceeded even his own expectations, a 46-goal season nothing short of remarkable with scope to pick up a few more.

All that coming after a stretch where he was openly critical of himself for not scoring!

"I'm more familiar with what the schedules are, the away rinks, you get more comfortable with that kind of stuff and you're much more prepared for away games in particular with the kind of travel you're about to do," says Murphy.

"Just the little things like that have made me feel more comfortable on the ice this year and let me be the best player I can be."

Unsurprisingly, one of the happiest people that Murphy got the record was the man who elected to bring him back for another year in Belfast after being suitably impressed by what he saw in 2017-18.

"He's a pure goal scorer and any time he's around the net he's a real threat, and any time the puck is on his stick really he's a real threat," enthused head coach Adam Keefe.

"I know he was a little upset the last couple of games because he couldn't seem to get one in, so for him to get that goal tonight and get the monkey off his back is great.

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Press Eye - Belfast -  Northern Ireland - 06th January 2019 - Photo by William Cherry/Presseye

Belfast Giants' Darcy Murphy celebrates scoring against Sheffield Steelers during Sunday afternoons Elite Ice Hockey League game at the SSE Arena, Belfast.    Photo by William Cherry/Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 06th January 2019 - Photo by William Cherry/Presseye Belfast Giants' Darcy Murphy celebrates scoring against Sheffield Steelers during Sunday afternoons Elite Ice Hockey League game at the SSE Arena, Belfast. Photo by William Cherry/Presseye

©William Cherry / Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 06th January 2019 - Photo by William Cherry/Presseye Belfast Giants' Darcy Murphy celebrates scoring against Sheffield Steelers during Sunday afternoons Elite Ice Hockey League game at the SSE Arena, Belfast. Photo by William Cherry/Presseye

 

"We've still got two more games to go here, so hopefully he can catch fire again and he can get to 50."

So, with a record under his belt and another Challenge Cup winner's medal in his trophy cabinet, there's only one thing left to do - add an Elite League title winner's medal alongside them, and then go and put a play-off title on the mantle too.

With the ever-changing rosters of European hockey, there's a chance Murphy may not be back with the Giants next season - "I haven't yet," he admits when asked if he's considered his future - and it'd be the perfect way to sign off an excellent campaign.

"It'd mean a lot. Belfast hasn't won it in a while and it would mean a lot to every guy in the locker room," admits Murphy when asked what it would mean to win the title.

"We'll hope for the best and if we do what we can do then we'll be happy."


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