GLENDALE – Coyotes prospect Connor Murphy is hoping his holiday season will include a nice, long trip to Russia.
That’s because that’s where the 2013 U.S. National Junior Team will compete at the IIHF World Junior Championship starting on Dec. 26.
Murphy, whom the Coyotes selected with the 20th overall pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, and 26 other players will try to earn a Team USA roster spot next week at a training camp in Tarrytown, N.Y.
“There will be nine defensemen there and I think that they’ll take seven to Russia,” Murphy said. “I’ll be going there (to the camp) trying to earn a spot as a defensive defenseman. I think if I play to my ability and play to my strengths then I’ll have a good chance.”
Team USA’s camp will run from Dec. 16-18. An additional camp will be staged in Helsinki, Finland, and the final 23-man roster will be announced on Dec. 23.
“It’s been a dream of mine for a while to be able to play in the World Junior tournament, and to be able to do it for Team USA would be awesome,” said Murphy, who was born and raised in Dublin, Ohio. “I’m really looking forward to getting to the camp in New York and just playing to my fullest capabilities so I can make the final roster and hopefully make a good impact and go for that gold medal. That would be amazing.”
Murphy, 19, already has competed with the letters “USA” on his sweater and fared well. In 2011, he notched two goals, including the game-winner in overtime, in the gold medal game of the IIHF World Under-18 Championships vs. Sweden.
“It’s a tremendous honor to represent your country in any way,” Murphy said.
“And it’s really fun. I was lucky enough to win a gold medal in the U-18 championships. It’s awesome to be able to go up through the ranks and compete against the best players in the world at our age group. I’m so proud to be able to be a part of it and it’s just great to have so many great players coming up through the ranks.”
Murphy is currently playing for the Sarnia Sting of the Ontario Hockey League. He ranks seventh on the team with 16 points (five goals, 11 assists) in 31 games, and is plus-9.
“I’ve been really happy with how it’s going here in Sarnia,” Murphy said. “I feel like I’ve learned a lot and, knock on wood, I’ve been feeling great. I was kind of looking back and I think this is the first time that I’ve been healthy for a large period of games in the last three or four years. So, it’s really awesome to be able to do what I love, and be able to play and contribute to my team every night. It’s just awesome to be a part of that and I’m having a lot of fun with it.”
Coyotes General Manager Don Maloney watched Murphy play earlier this season and liked what he saw.
“Connor has been healthy and he’s played a lot of games and his game has really improved over the last month to six weeks,” Maloney said. “His team is winning and his offensive production has really jumped up.”
Maloney is pleased Team USA is giving Murphy an audition for its World Junior roster.
“I think he has a very good chance to make the team,” Maloney said, “and to be able to play in that event, and in that environment with all of the scrutiny, is invaluable for a young prospect. It’s a big deal.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: NHL Network will broadcast all of Team USA’s games at the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championship live.
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