Scottish-born netminder Stephen Murphy, who now calls Northern Ireland home, has confirmed he is retiring after a lengthy and memorable career with the Belfast Giants spanning 11 seasons.
The 39-year-old fan favourite originally joined the Giants in 2009 from the Manchester Phoenix.
Since then, he has gone on to rack up impressive saves and numerous accolades and was rewarded with a testimonial game in his honour in 2019.
Among his career highlights are backstopping the Giants to multiple Elite League titles, and helping Team GB win their first gold medals in 24 years during the 2017 World Championships hosted by Belfast.
He has collected several All-Star awards and been named British Netminder of the Year eight times.
Murph even famously impressed when he featured in nets against the visiting Boston Bruins of the NHL.
“Some of my best memories are not things that I have personally done,” Murphy said, reflecting on his career and in particular his time with the Giants.
“It was such a cool experience playing with your best mates and family as well with Shieldsy (cousin and Giants legend Colin Shields).
“When you achieved something together, it just made it all the more special.
“It was just so much fun going to work with your best mates every day - it’s definitely one of the main things I’ll take away from playing hockey, and definitely one of the things I’m going to miss for sure.”
Having settled in Northern Ireland, making it home and raising a family, Murphy says that has only deepened the connection forged through hockey and he wanted to end his career with the Giants.
“To finish playing for the Giants is what I imagined for so long - having been here for so long and having been part of the family and making it my new home, which made it even more special,” he said.
“It didn’t become old - it became more and more special to me every year that I stayed here, and my family are growing up here as well.
“I look forward to watching a Giants match, being part of the crowd, and hopefully that happens pretty soon this year.
“I’m looking forward to it and I’m sure everyone’s looking forward to getting back to it and I’ll be a part of that.”
Head Coach Adam Keefe, who has previously played alongside Murph, has wished him all the best for life after hockey.
“The retirement of Stephen Murphy was always going to be a big change for the Giants,” he said.
“He has been the backbone of the club since 2009. His career here in Belfast should be celebrated and he will forever be a Giants Legend.
“I loved every minute playing in front of Murph as a player and standing behind the bench coaching him.”
Recruitment for the new season is continuing, with hopes high that action will finally return to the ice at the SSE Arena Belfast this autumn after a long lay-off due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The netminding team has now been completed, with the return of Tyler Beskorowany already announced and more returnees in Jackson Whistle and Andrew Dickson confirmed on Tuesday.
Also already confirmed among the returnees are defencemen Kevin Raine and Mark Garside, and forwards Darcy Murphy, Ben Lake, Lewis Hook, and Ciaran Long.
New faces will include 25-year-old Texan Jeff Baum and 27-year-old Ontario native Slater Doggett.