PITTSBURGH – Providence College men's hockey senior Kyle Murphy (Fairhaven, N.J.) was named the 2013 Derek Hines Unsung Hero Award Winner, as announced by the Hockey Commissioners Association (HCA) in Pittsburgh, Pa. The award was established by the HCA in honor of former Army player Derek Hines, who was a "consummate team player and team builder." Hines played at Army from 1999-2003 and was a four-year letter-winner as well as a co-captain his senior season. He was killed in the line of duty on Sept. 1, 2005 in Afghanistan.
"I am extremely honored and deeply humbled to accept the Derek Hines Unsung Hero Award," Murphy said. "Derek was a great hockey player but, more importantly, he was an extraordinary person. Derek's infectious personality, natural leadership ability and genuine spirit truly embody the perfect teammate and I will strive each day to live my own life as Derek so selflessly lived his."
"Kyle has been extremely influential over the last two years in turning this program into a top-four program in Hockey East this season, bringing all the attributes of a winner to the team," Head Coach Nate Leaman said.
After leaving the University of Notre Dame, where he proved to be an exceptional student and also played 17 games during the 2009-10 season, Murphy decided to play for the Vernon Vipers of the BCHL. He also took classes at a local college to remain on track to graduate once he returned to the college level. He took 36 credit hours in order to graduate with an Associate's degree while helping the Vipers to the 2011 BCHL Championship. Through the championship run, he remained on top of his studies and earned an 'A' in every course he took.
Murphy then chose to attend Providence College with then first-year Head Coach Nate Leaman. Before the 2011-12 season, word came from the NCAA that even though he excelled while taking a heavy course load while with the Vipers, Murphy was ruled a partial qualifier and only allowed to participate in Friar practices for the season. The adversity did not deter Murphy, who was often cited by Leaman as the hardest day-in and day-out worker in practice. Murphy's work ethic and leadership was so persistent throughout the 2011-12 season that before the 2012-13 season - without having played a game for the Friars - Murphy was named the team captain.
"Kyle brings excellent character and he is one the best leaders I have been fortunate enough to coach," Leaman added. "The hardest thing you are trying to do when you take over a program is to build a winning culture and having Kyle as the leader of the program within the locker room enabled us to do that very quickly here. Showing everyone how we want to represent our program on and off the ice in terms of work ethic and the grit and determination it takes to win games."
Murphy's leadership and contagious work ethic was part of the reason the 2012-13 Friars – with the second-most freshmen in the country (13) – entered the last weekend of the regular season in contention for the Hockey East title for the first time ever. Murphy and the Friars went on to earn home ice for the Hockey East Quarterfinals (for the first time in 10 seasons) and advanced to the Hockey East Championship Semifinals for the second consecutive season.
With three goals and eight assists, Murphy was also a contributor to a balanced Friar offense that saw 15 players notch at least 11 points on the year. Two of his three goals were game-winning tallies, including the deciding goal in PC's 6-5 win at No. 3 UNH on Jan. 19 – Providence's first win at the Whittemore Center since 2004. Murphy was also one of PC's key face-off takers and penalty killers. He finished the year with 44 blocked shots to lead the team.
"I want to thank the Hines Family and the Derek Hines Fund for their tireless work to honor Derek's legacy by supporting the brave men and women of our military," Murphy added. "I also want to thank Coach Leaman, his staff, and all of my teammates at Providence College for the incredible experience that I have enjoyed these past two years. I am truly grateful to have been chosen for this award from among so many talented student-athletes."
A product of Shattuck St. Mary's, Murphy will graduate this spring from Providence College with a BS in finance. A 2012 Hockey East All-Academic team selection, he also played an integral role in the team's drafting of then seven-year old Kevin Rich through Team IMPACT. Throughout the season, Murphy and the Friars included Kevin, who is battling Leukemia, in team events and welcomed him to the locker rooms after games. They also visited Kevin on Halloween, his birthday and took him to the AHL All- Star game at the Dunkin Donuts Center.
The Hockey Commissioners Association coordinates the honor. Each of the six hockey conferences nominates a player to a national ballot. From there, sports information directors from each conference vote on a winner, "who displays exemplary sportsmanship, is supremely competitive, intelligent and extraordinarily conditioned with an unmatched work ethic. The contributions of this individual, on and off the ice, cannot be measured by statistics alone."
HCA Commissioners' Derek Hines Unsung Hero Award Runners-Up:
Joe Gleason, North Dakota
Brendan Jamison, Robert Morris
CJ Lee, Rensselaer
Scott Macaulay, Northern Michigan
2007 Dan Shribman, Dartmouth
2008 Chase Podsiad, Army
2009 Mike Phillipich, Air Force
2010 Jordan Pietrus, Brown
2011 Kyle Schmidt, Minnesota-Duluth
2012 Bobby Farnham, Brown
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