On Nov. 30 Jeff Murphy found himself in a familiar groove.
He had a 38-save performance in a 4-3 overtime victory for the Corner Brook Royals in what was his first senior hockey appearance since 2011.
Setting up in the crease was a comfortable setting for Murphy. In previous seasons he helped the team reach the Herder Memorial Trophy final on two occasions without winning a championship before he gave up.
What wasn’t so familiar was the special guest in the stands for his return.
His son Luke, a nine-year-old forward with the Corner Brook Atom A Royals hockey team, was in the building, seeing his dad don the goalie equipment for the first time.
“He had a riot Friday night. He had a blast at that game, so that’s pretty cool,” Murphy said of his son’s reaction to the special moment. “He was talking about that Friday night game right up until Sunday when he had his own tournament out in Stephenville.”
Dad has seen his son develop a competitive drive for hockey over the past year and that got him thinking about playing again so his son would be able to watch him play.
“I thought it would be nice to have some memories about going to Dad’s hockey games,” said the elder Murphy. “I wanted Luke to see it. The game gives you a lot and you learn a boatload, and to get him to kind of see it would be cool.”
Murphy has been helping young goalies for a number of years, particularly spending a fair bit of time sharing his expertise with the goaltenders with the Western Kings major midget hockey program.
Murphy is an intense performer when it comes to being in the competitive environment.
“I don’t particularly enjoy getting hit anywhere with pucks, but what you enjoy about it is somebody was trying to put that puck past you and it didn’t happen,” he said.
Murphy is enjoying teaching his son about the importance of being a good teammate, a good sport and somebody who works hard every shift.
It’s also about sharing some life lessons with his younger Royals teammates, so he’s going to make the most out of being able to play the game with his son smiling in the stands.
He figures there is no better way to test himself than to be on a team with most guys 20 years younger.
“If I thought I couldn’t compete I wouldn’t have come back, but you don’t come back to compete you come back to win,” he said. “I don’t come back to be the second-best goalie in the league. But, if somebody is better than me good on them."
He felt at home in the crease. It was just a special night because of that one special fan who was having fun watching dad do what he loves to do.
“I felt like I really never left. It’s more of a mental game than physical for a goalie so it was exactly like it used to be,” he said.