Belfast Telegraph

Murphy happy to stake claim with solid displays

 

Standing firm: Stephen Murphy inspired the Giants
Standing firm: Stephen Murphy inspired the Giants
Adam McKendry

By Adam McKendry

Having made 37 saves across two games against the Manchester Storm at the weekend, Belfast Giants netminder Stephen Murphy could be set for a bigger role as the season progresses.

Murphy entered the campaign as the back-up to Shane Owen and before the weekend had only seen time in a 7-2 blow-out win over the Fife Flyers in the Challenge Cup, but excelled when called upon against the Storm.

The 37-year-old Scot replaced Owen just 7:40 into the second period of Saturday's game and saved all 17 shots he faced, earning a start in Sunday's 3-1 victory where he made 20 more stops.

The displays saw Murphy's save percentage rise to .942, while his goals against average improved to 1.19, and the Giants veteran admitted he would be keen to get more game time.

"Yes, 100%. I'm ready to go whenever Keefer (head coach Adam Keefe) needs me," said Murphy.

"But I also know Shane is a good goalie and he's been playing really well. He's had some big games for us and he's been unfortunate not to get a few wins here and there.

"It was the same (on Saturday) night, I felt I played well when I came in but we still only came out with a point."

It was down to Murphy that the Giants were able to take three out of four points from the weekend, with the goaltender coming up with some clutch saves in both games including denying Manchester on a penalty shot just 11 seconds before Jordan Smotherman's game-winner on Sunday.

"We've got to be happy enough. Obviously we're disappointed not to get the full points, but when we lost the shoot-out on Saturday we said if we can win (on Sunday) and come away with three points then it's not a bad weekend," added Murphy.

"It was a tough-fought weekend. They stuck to their game plan and gave us a hard time. To get three points, not a bad job."

While Murphy is unlikely to displace Owen as the starting netminder for the Giants, his performances at the weekend could indeed lead to more games moving forward.

Giants head coach Keefe said: "We want to ride a hot goaltender, and when he's playing well like that we have a lot of confidence in him.

"With Murph, it's all about his body and how he feels. We'll take some time here to de-congest, take the game in and make those decisions throughout the week.

"We don't want to make any off the cuff decisions but I'm really happy with his performance, that's for sure."

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