Young blood from Marystown joins Caribou roster

Jonathan Parsons
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Andrew Murley ready to guard Clarenville goal

"It's a bit of a cliché, I guess, but it's in the blood," says Andrew Murley. In his hockey beginnings, he wore his Dad's old ice hockey gear, now he wears the vestiges of the Clarenville Caribous.

Andrew Murley is the new backup goalie for the Caribous.

Murley is The Caribous' new, young backup goaltender.

He was formerly the "number three" guy, but the Caribous dealt Roger Kennedy to the Eastlink CeeBee Stars in January. Kennedy is now the starter for the eastern division rivals.

Murley, from Marystown, was drafted by Clarenville in December's entry draft and at only 23 years-old, he's anxious for experience.

"The more shots the better," Murley told The Packet.

Murley accepts his role as backup goalie behind longtime stalwart of the Caribous crease, Jason Churchill. He understands that he is the "number two", but is glad he will be getting more time in practice and dressing every game.

Murley's path to the Newfoundland Senior Hockey League (NLHSL) was not the traditional route taken.

He has uncles who are goalies, two or three cousins who play goal, his brother has been known to play in net, so it's definitely a family affair.

It is, perhaps, this pedigree that gives Murley such a level head for the high-pressure position of goalkeeping.

He offers an insightful comment of philosophy, "There's (only) as much pressure as you put on yourself.

"If you go out and play rec hockey and tell yourself that you've got to stop every puck, you can put a lot of pressure on yourself then...Or you can go out to a senior hockey game against the Cats and you can say 'I'll stop as many pucks as I can', you're not putting as much pressure on yourself."

His calm demeanor lends itself well to detailed preparation.

"I think it's really based on how you prepare yourself for the game."

He started playing ice hockey in grade nine, much later than most other young players. However, he had a background in ball hockey and loved to play street hockey as well.

The netminder played in recreation leagues, which led to one year of midget minor hockey with the Marystown Mariners.

After graduating high school, he moved to Stephenville to study recording arts at the College of the North Atlantic.

He made the Stephenville Junior Jets in his first tryout and played three years for the team.

"I managed to win the Goalie of the Year award, my last season there."

Murley went on to play for the St. John's Senior Caps in the Avalon East Senior Hockey League (AESHL).

He was drafted to the amateur league last season and played alongside some of his friends from Marystown.

"(I) dressed for six games, played two, won one and lost one," says Murley.

After that, travel began to be an issue for the young goalie. It was an amateur league, so he was paying his own travel costs to the St. John's area. The Caps' original goalie had returned from a break and Murley decided he would throw his hat into the NSHL draft.

He was originally supposed to be a tier-two territorial pickup for the Caribous, but his experience in the AESHL required that he enter in the draft this past December.

The formality only deprived Murley of a couple of months of practice. The Caribous picked up the goaltender and made him their third, behind Churchill and Kennedy.

"I kind of missed practicing with both of them at the same time, because at the beginning of the year, Churchill was coming in every second weekend."

He spent a great deal of practices across from Kennedy, the now former Bou.

"We became friends, we talked about the position and playing at that level."

On Feb. 1 and 2, Murley had one of the best seats in the house to witness a goaltending duel between his former and current mentors, Kennedy and Churchill.

He says, "I think they both played well in both games. There were a couple bad bounces (that) went our way, in Harbour Grace, and I think that was the difference in the game.

"You could tell that both guys wanted to pull out the win for their teams."

Murley is growing and learning rapidly the more shots he faces in practice.

"The calibre of the shots that some of these guys have, they're fairly high. There's former NHL draft picks on the team."

He is currently an audio and lighting technician and in the summer he works at the Grand Bank Regional Theatre Festival as technical director.

While he wouldn't comment on whether he sees himself starting in the NLSHL some day, he is still quite young. At only 23 years of age, he is at least several years younger than most starting goalies in the league. Churchill is 28 years-old, and AJ Whiffen of the Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts is 32.

Murley is humble but has a bright future.

"All I can do is go out and do my best...With regards to starting, I know right now, my role is to backup Church so that's what I'm going to focus on, right now, and I'll take it from there."

jonathan.parsons@thepacket.ca

Organizations: College of the North Atlantic.He, Newfoundland Senior Hockey League, Avalon East Senior Hockey League NLHSL Stephenville Junior Jets NHL Grand Bank Regional Theatre

Geographic location: Marystown, St. John's, Stephenville Harbour Grace

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