Stephen Murphy honoured to see former Belfast Giants jet in for his testimonial
When it comes to the Belfast Giants, there are few more deserving of a night honouring their service to the team than netminder Stephen Murphy.
A two-time Elite League winner with the Giants, as well as picking up the 2010 play-off title and the 2018 Challenge Cup, the 37-year-old has done it all with the team.
Not only that, but he's been one of their outstanding performers over the last 10 years too, the Dundee man scooping five British Netminder of the Year awards as well as the 2012 Elite League Netminder of the Year and 2014 British Player of the Year prizes and three All-Star nominations.
Since joining from the Manchester Phoenix prior to the 2009-10 season, Murphy has been exceptional for the Giants, posting five seasons with a save percentage above .915 as well as taking home all those team and personal accolades.
And so, as he prepares for his testimonial match tonight at the SSE Arena (face-off 7pm), it's undoubtedly going to be an emotional occasion for him.
"I didn't envisage it (happening) at all," admitted Murphy. "At that time in my career I was moving from team to team, but I was delighted to come here and I was really happy when I got the chance to extend it year on year.
"After a good few years it started to creep into my mind it was a possibility but it's such a hard thing to do for 10 years, so I never really thought it would happen until a couple of years ago. Thankfully I've done it and now the moment's coming up."
A host of ex-Giants stars will be back in Belfast for tonight's game, with the likes of former fan favourites Paxton Schulte, Kevin Saurette, Mark Morrison and Evan Cheverie all taking to the ice, all of whom were former team-mates of Murphy's down the years in Belfast.
The rest of the two rosters will be filled by the current Giants team, with the two sides captained by Murphy's cousin and team-mate Colin Shields and current skipper Blair Riley.
"It's really good to see those guys and that's a big thing for me," said Murphy. "I want to enjoy and celebrate my time here, but I want to celebrate with the guys who have been here and they were all super keen to come back because they love the team, the organisation and the city.
"It's nice to have all those guys come back for the same reason and have a good time together.
"They've all had really nice words to say to me and they've all supported me and I really appreciate that. Some of those guys have come a long way."
Having been in Northern Ireland now for 10 years, Murphy calls Belfast home, and his most notable moments while with the Giants have been off-ice.
"When you talk about it a bit more you remember some of the memories I've had here, and even starting a family here in Belfast which has meant a lot to me with my wife and my son here now," he said.
"I have so many happy memories here and that's what I take away from it."