It is something Phantoms fans have seen a lot of this year, Brett Murray scoring goals — 41 of them to be exact — a new Phantoms franchise record and the most by any player in the USHL this season.
“Like you said, 40 is a big number,” Murray said. “It has only happened one other time in my career. I have usually never been a goal scorer so to speak, I like making plays and creating offense for my linemates.”
But Murray’s goals are much bigger than just personal stats. After spending the last year and a half in the college ranks with the Penn State hockey program, Murray came back to Youngstown to try and finish something off that the team just missed out on last year.
“The first conversation I had with Brett was, geez, I was following the team, that is heartbreaking, I want to be back there, I want to bring that thing there,” said Phantoms head coach Brad Patterson.
“It would mean everything,” Murray said. “Winning a championship is special, doesn’t matter what league you are in. But the first one in an organization or franchise history, that would be amazing.”
Murray stands at 6 feet 5 inches, without skates, and 220 pounds. But don’t let that fool you, there is more to his game than just size.
“Me and you take 15 strides to catch up to his two,” Patterson said.
“He can get up and down the ice and it is fast, and it looks effortless, and to do that with such a big frame, people do not always look at that. You speak on the hands, he has a good release, he can protect pucks, he can do everything. He plays in every situation for us.”
Murray’s time in the Valley is winding down. After the playoffs, he will either head to Miami of Ohio, where he has two years of NCAA eligibility left, or he could get a call from the Buffalo Sabres, who drafted him in 2016 and said to come play in the NHL.
“I think it is every kid’s dream to get that phone call,” Murray said. “You know, I am feeling pretty confident in myself and where we are at as a team right now, a good playoff run and we will see from there.”
“Would I be shocked if he doesn’t play for the whole two years and is wearing a pro uniform? No, not at all,” Patterson said.
“He is probably forcing them to say, ‘Hey, we really need to take a look at this.’ And that is what these guys are here for.”
But before he leaves, he wants to make a little more history in Youngstown.
“Last year in the league, it would be very special to go out on top,” Murray said. “There is no better feeling than lifting a trophy at the end and calling yourself number one, you know? Regular season stats, yeah they are cool but you know no one else in the league will be able to say they won at the end of the day. So it would be really special to have that.”