(Photo courtesy of Chapin Landvogt/HF)
This year’s IIHF U-18 WJC in Germany features a number of young men who are highly touted for the upcoming 2011 NHL draft. Still, none of them are expected to go as high as Kitchener Rangers defenseman Ryan Murphy. Although a bit undersized at 5’11 and 180 lbs, the defenseman is widely considered one of the most dynamic skaters in the upcoming draft. After putting up 26 goals and 79 points in only 63 regular season OHL games, Murphy went on to lead his junior club Kitchener Rangers in playoff scoring on the strength of two goals and 11 points in a 7 game first round loss to the Plymouth Whalers. Although the OHL season came to a disappointing end, Ryan’s tasks as a go-to player did not as he and teammates Michael Catenacci and Tobias Rieder headed to Germany to play for their respective nations at this spring’s IIHF U-18 WJC.
Heading into playoff competition against Rieder’s Germany tomorrow night, Murphy currently has three goals, seven points and a plus-six rating. After a very important come from behind 5-4 win against Finland, Hockey’s Future had the opportunity to chat with Ryan.
Hockey’s Future: That was obviously a big win tonight including a big comeback in the third period. How did you feel knowing how much this game meant?
Ryan Murphy: Oh, for sure, it felt really good. We got down late there 3-2 and we just made sure to keep things cool on the bench. Ultimately, (Malcolm) Subban kept us in the game and we got some greasy goals. That’s what counts in the end.
HF: There was one time there where it looked like you might have scored a goal. We saw you chatting with the referee to go to video review…
RM: Yep, I’m pretty much 95 percent sure that was a goal. It went in and out and I didn’t hear any crossbar on that shot.
HF: This is a tournament a lot of Canadians don’t necessarily look forward to because it ultimately means that their respective junior team either didn’t get into the playoffs or was knocked out in the first round. After the year you just had in Kitchener, was that first round loss disappointing?
RM: Yeah, it was really disappointing. We wanted to make a run in the playoffs and then we lost in seven games. Obviously, we made a lot of trades along the way. Sure, we ended up losing that first round and that loss was really hard to take, but I see this tournament as another chance to show the scouts what I have to offer.
HF: Speaking of the scouts, do you spend much time thinking about the NHL draft coming up?
RM: I try to keep it in the back of my head while I’m playing, but at the same time, I know they’re there, I know who is watching, I know how important this tournament is, so I just go out there and play our Team Canada style of hockey.
HF: As for next year, you’re likely to be taken high enough that the NHL could already be a possibility. Do you see yourself there or back in Kitchener?
RM: For sure, my ultimate goal is to play in the NHL next year. Still, I’m a small guy who just turned 18. I’ve got many years to go in my career, so I’m just going to take it slow.
HF: You’ve been mentioned quite a bit this year on Coach’s Corner and you seem to be a Don Cherry favorite. What do you think of that?
RM: Yep, that was a pretty special thing because he’s obviously a pretty well-known hockey figure. Still, it’s just like with the scouts; I’ve got to put stuff like that in the back of my mind when I’m playing.
HF: You’ve got a few more games left in this round and then likely at least several in the playoff round. What do you and the team need to do to beat a strong opponent like Sweden (who went on to beat Canada 4-2 in the final B Group game).
RM: We have to stick to playing our classic Canadian style of hockey. Crash and bang, getting greasy goals, that’s our style of hockey. In today’s game against Finland we got away from that for about 10-15 minutes and it almost cost us the game. We’ve just got to play the style that we know how to play.