Part of the Calgary Inferno’s superb gathering of rookie talent, Kelly Murray brings a solid work ethic and fundamental approach that shall bolster the club’s defensive crops. Selected 12th overall in the 2017 CWHL Draft, she was the fourth blueliner selected in the draft, claimed in the second round. The other blueliners selected ahead of Murray included teamamte Taryn Baumgardt, Lindsay Grigg with Markham and Montreal pick Laurence Beaulieu.
Having earned Canadian Interuniversity Sport (now USPORTS) honors in her final season with the UBC Thunderbirds, she joins second year Inferno blueliner Katelyn Gosling as another All-Canadian suiting up for the Inferno.
An alum of Hockey Canada, capturing a silver medal at the 2017 Winter Universiade in Kazakhstan, it was part of a very well travelled career for the marvelous Murray. Having competed at the renowned Shattuck St. Mary’s in Faribault, Minnesota, she would also join the Ivy League’s Cornell Big Red in upstate New York. Crossing the continent to finish her collegiate career on Canada’s Pacific Coast in Vancouver, with the Thunderbirds.
Embarking on a professional career in the CWHL, it is a monumental milestone for Murray. With three sisters, Logan, Madison and Eden (who also played with Canada’s U18 team) having all competed in collegiate hockey, Kelly becomes the first to advance to the professional ranks. For one of Canada’s most celebrated women’s hockey families, which also includes cousin Sarah taking on the role of head coach for South Korea’s national women’s team at the upcoming Winter Games, there is so much to be proud of.
In getting the opportunity to compete in the CWHL, it is more than just history for Kelly. It is a proud privilege to be able to extend the family’s tremendous legacy in hockey. Graciously acknowledging that her older sisters certainly had the talent and skill to continue professionally, their focus shifted towards career, an eventual crossroads that all athletes must accept,
“I feel very proud that I get to continue my family's legacy in hockey. My two older sisters were real trailblazers for my younger sister and I when it came to hockey and school, and they both respectfully decided to focus on their academic and work careers after they finished at university even though both of them were good enough to continue playing professional hockey.
Both of my parents were high-level athletes so they understood and continue to understand the sacrifices that we had to make for our sport. They both sacrificed a lot to help the four of us achieve what we have achieved so far in our academic and athletic lives, so to be able to continue playing helps me to feel like I'm honoring the countless sacrifices that they had to make for us while we were growing up. Yet, I think my dad especially is really happy that one of his girls decided to keep playing after university.”
Many unique elements define Murray’s inaugural season with the Inferno, accentuating her own legacy, while defining a new generation of stars in an exciting era for the franchise. Getting the opportunity to wear the Inferno’s jersey represents a proud homecoming for her.
Raised in Alberta, Murray’s early legacy involved being named to the provincial team that competed in women’s ice hockey at the 2011 Canada Winter Games. Part of a remarkable roster that featured future Inferno competitors such as Emerance Maschmeyer and Brittany Fouracres, it was an exciting denouement to a proud junior career in the province, before embarking on her collegiate career. With the chance to play professionally in her home province, it brings an amazing run of hockey brilliance full circle,
“I am so happy to be back, and to get the opportunity to keep playing hockey in my home province feels amazing. Even though my family has moved a lot for hockey over the years, we have always called Alberta home and we have always been proud to call ourselves Albertan. So to be able to continue my career here in Calgary has been an awesome start to my post-collegiate life.”
In gaining the opportunity to call Fouracres a teammate with the Inferno, it represents a very unique aspect for Murray. Prior to joining the Inferno last season, Fouracres competed with the McGill Martlets, one of the premier programs in USPORTS women’s ice hockey.
Among the players that Fouracres called a teammate at McGill included Murray’s older sister, Logan. Undoubtedly, there is a feeling of reunion in the chance to call a second member of the famed Murray hockey family a teammate again. As the first time that Fouracres and Kelly Murray were teammates resulted in gold at the Canada Winter Games, the feeling of reunion takes on a more profound meaning,
“Britt and I got the chance to play together in high school and for the U18 Team Alberta team during the Canada Winter Games back in 2011, and we actually won a gold medal together there, which I think was the first time in 20 years that the Team Alberta women's hockey team had won a gold medal, so that was a really amazing experience. She was a great role model for me in high school and at Team Alberta, so I am really excited to get the chance to call her a teammate once again for this season.”
Making her debut with the Inferno on October 21, the theme of travel was certainly evident again, as Murray’s first contest at the CWHL took place in Boston. Although there was the obligatory feeling of nervous energy, the chance to grace the ice and be part of an exciting new era in league history, one involving player compensation and expansion into China, representing an empowering time, certainly became prevalent once the game went underway.
“I was feeling a bit nervous before the game started, but I tried to just focus on the process and not get caught up in getting overwhelmed. I think I can speak for all the girls when I say that we were all just so eager and looking forward to starting the season, so when the puck dropped all the nerves disappeared.
It just felt great to play a hockey game again and Boston did a great job of getting a lot of fans to fill the rink for their home opener so it was a really neat atmosphere to play my first CWHL game in.”
Although Murray did not gain any points in her CWHL debut, it would not take long for her to make an impression. Making her debut on home ice in a weekend series against the expansion Kunlun Red Star, one of the league’s entries from China, it truly signified Murray’s value as an asset on the blueline.
With the Inferno providing an intense performance filled with heart and character, a hard-fought 4-3 overtime loss in the opening game against Red Star resulted in an Inferno milestone for Murray. In spite of the loss, Murray gained the honor of being named the Second Star of the Game, testament to her strong defensive play. Sharing the honor with Red Star competitors (and former Winter Games competitors) Annina Rajahuta and Kelli Stack, it demonstrated that Murray is able to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the game’s international luminaries.
The Second Star honors would prove to be the catalyst for another inspiring performance by Murray. With the first series of November taking place on home ice against the new-look Markham Thunder, Murray stole the show with one of the most sparkling performances in her career.
Despite Markham taking the game’s early lead, as alternate captain Kristen Richards scored, it would not take long for the Inferno to tie the game. Merely 68 seconds after said goal, Murray and fellow rookie Sophie Shirley gained the assists on the game-tying goal by Rhianna Kurio. With the assist, Murray gained the first point of her CWHL career.
Following the assist, the offensive floodgates would open for Murray. With a third period that resulted in a four-goal outburst for the Inferno, prevailing in a 7-2 final, Murray had a hand in two of those goals. Capitalizing on a power play, Murray recorded her first career goal in CWHL play. Fittingly, Shirley would gain one of the assists, while Dakota Woodworth also collaborated on the score.
Special teams were prevalent in the final goal of the game too. Once again, Murray would rise to the occasion, gaining the assist on a short-handed goal by Kayla Gardner, who scored her first goal this season. In a game filled with so many memorable highlights, it was Murray who shone brightest. Not only did she gain her first assist and first goal, it would also result in the first multi-point effort of her career, attaining three milestones in one game.
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
Photo credits: Dave Holland, Game photos versus Blades obtained from: http://www.bdzsports.com/2017/10/25/blades-vs-inferno/