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Meet Michael Murphy: Equipment Manager Turned Backup Goaltender

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Credit: San Jose Barracuda

During his typical game day routine, head equipment manager Michael Murphy can be found sharpening skates and assembling gear for the San Jose Barracuda.

However, last Friday, Murphy swapped his teal jump suit for a pair of pads and a goalie mask.

Murphy suited up as the Barracuda’s backup goaltender in a 4-0 win over the Stockton Heat at Stockton Arena on New Year’s Eve.

“There’s not a whole lot of opportunities for us to prove that we will do whatever we need to do for these guys,” Murphy said. “This was our chance. These guys are my brothers. I’d do anything for them. That was indicative of the extent of what we’d do for these guys.”

Murphy, listed at five-foot-nine and 225 pounds, has spent his entire professional career behind the bench, serving in the equipment manager position for the San Jose Sharks’ AHL affiliate, the Macon Mayhem, Canisius College, American International College, and the University of New England.

After his tenure for four years as an assistant equipment manager for the Barracuda, Murphy earned a promotion to head equipment manager in the summer of 2018.

Murphy has been through a lot over the course of his career in the Bay Area, ranging from complete roster shuffles to their unforgettable road trip during COVID-impacted season.

Yet, this was the first time Murphy was assigned to take shots in the blue paint during warmups for the final game of 2021.

“I was worried about taking a Blichfeld shot to the throat, but managed to escape those,” Murphy said with a smile. “It was just another day in Cuda Country, if you will.”

Murphy found out he would be the back-up netminder Wednesday night.

“I got a call from general manager Joe Will and he said, ‘We’re going to need you to back up,'” Murphy said. “‘Let’s do it!'”

Turned out, Murphy would not be needed on the ice as goaltender Sam Harvey slammed the door shut on the Stockton Heat’s offense, earning his first career AHL shutout with 30 saves.

“He worked his butt off that night,” Murphy said. “With three minutes and change left, he told me to start stretching. I said, ‘You have some business to take care of.’ We were up enough where I could have jumped in. I was definitely ready to go.”

Murphy used his equipment that he’s kept since 2009 for the night. The 30-year-old played as a goalie during his days as a kid and teenager. Luckily, his gear still fit him.

“Pants were definitely a little tight, but everything still fit,” Murphy said with a chuckle. “I made my jersey and made sure the rest of the guys’ equipment was all set for the game.”

Even though he didn’t play, Murphy can still proudly say he has let in zero pro goals to his name.

Barracuda Begin 2022 on Cold Note

San Jose finished 2021 with a 3-2 record on a five-game road trip.

The road trip began on Dec. 17 with a barn-burner loss to the Ontario Reign, 7-4. The Barracuda scored three power-play goals in a game for the first time in franchise history, from Scott Reedy and Sasha Chmelevski.

The Barracuda scored four times in the third period on Dec. 18 at the Pechanga Arena, earning a 4-1 win over the San Diego Gulls. Evander Kane, who is in the AHL’s COVID protocol right now, scored a goal and assist, while Scott Reedy, Patrick Holway and Jaycob Megna found the back of the net.

San Jose and Colorado split a series at the Budweiser Event Center on Dec. 21 and 22. The Barracuda power play netted a pair while Jeffrey Viel scored twice to secure a 4-1 victory over the Eagles. Colorado responded with a 5-0 shutout from Justus Annunen, who collected his first AHL shutout.

The Barracuda’s games against the Bakersfield Condors on Dec. 27 and the Stockton Heat on Dec. 29 were postponed to later dates, due to a bunch of COVID cases on the Barracuda side.

Finally, in Harvey’s 4-0 Dec. 31 shutout over the Stockton Heat, Joachim Blichfeld scored twice and Evan Weinger and Nick Merkley collected their fifth and sixth goals of the season, respectively.

Forward Joachim Blichfeld was the team’s hottest player in the month of December, tallying five goals and nine points over the span.

To kick off the New Year, the Barracuda (11-14-1) were cold offensively and defensively in a 4-1 loss to the Heat (19-3-2-1) at SAP Center on Jan. 2.

The Heat lit the lamp first after a turnover down low found forward Alex Gallant in the mid slot for a top-shelf wrister over goaltender Adin Hill at the 2:04 mark of the first period.

Shortly after forward Luke Philp scored a power-play goal, Barracuda head coach Roy Sommer and Heat head coach Mitch Love were ejected for moving closer on the benches and yelling abruptly at one another, which drew a crowd from the players and officials.

Scott Reedy netted his 14th goal of the season on a second-effort shot in the blue paint following Adam Raska’s drive to the crease.

Reedy’s tally gave San Jose some life late in the contest, but the comeback was closed off by an empty-netter courtesy of forward Justin Kirkland.

Adin Hill made his first American Hockey League start of the season as part of his conditioning assignment since he was on the NHL’s COVID protocols last week. Hill made 33 saves on 37 shots against.

“Hill came up with three ten-bell saves for us,” Chiasson said. “He has that calming presence in net. He definitely looked really good in goal after some time off.”

Kane did not play tonight, nor has he played in the last three games.

Up next, the Barracuda face the Henderson Silver Knights for the first time this weekend at home.

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