• Jon Kohan

Opinion: Murphy - This Season's Gorscak

Andrew Murphy, player for the NAHL Johnstown Tomahawks celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against the USA under 18 hockey team.

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Written by: Jon Kohan

Note: This article was first published on November 4, 2020. Some statistical information has changed since this post was originally written.

Andrew Murphy of the Johnstown Tomahawks taking warmups before a NAHL regular season hockey game.

Last year, Christian Gorscak had a great season, and in his 64-point campaign (in a shortened season), he picked up many end-of-the-year NAHL top honors. In total, Gorscak played three seasons for the Tomahawks, and in each of those seasons, he improved from the previous.

In his first season with Johnstown (2017-18), Gorscak appeared in 49 games and registered 13 points (seven goals, six assists).

He followed that up in 2018-19 with a total of 24 points (10 goals and 14 assists).

Last season, he had his biggest year with the Tomahawks, leading the team in points with 64 points in 51 games (25 goals, 39 assists). He also won seven NAHL league awards at the end of the season:

  • NAHL (East) Forward of the Year

  • NAHL (East) Most Valuable Player

  • NAHL All-East Division Team

  • NAHL All-NAHL Team

  • NAHL Forward of the Year

  • NAHL Most Points

  • NAHL Most Valuable Player

A Tomahawks forward who appears to be following in Gorscak's footsteps in his development is Andrew Murphy, who stands at 6'4 210 lb and is from Youngstown, Ohio.

Murphy joined the Tomahawks during the 2017-18 season, appearing in 15 games. In those 15 games, he had two assists. That isn't a lot of production, but Murphy, in his first season, didn't see many shifts on the ice when he was in the lineup, and his role was limited as he was one of the youngest players on that team's roster.

Last season, Murphy's role was scaled up as he continued to develop his on-ice skills. He played in 42 games and had 20 points (11 goals, 9 assists).

Just like his former teammate, Murphy saw quite an improvement on the score sheet.

Now this season, so far in five games, he's produced an average of a point a game. If this trend continues, he will rack up 57 points. The Tomahawks have played six games this season, but Murphy was a scratch in an earlier game this season.

We don't really make predictions on the site, but maybe we should. This could be considered our first one, or at least my first one. Murphy has done a great job over the years developing his game, and some of that credit also goes to head coach Mike Letizia for setting Andrew up for success.

The Tomahawks have only had a handful of players that have spent three or more years on their roster. Unlike teams like (former) the Michigan Warriors who seemed to take every other year to go super young with their roster in hopes of developing a studded roster for later seasons, the Tomahawks have focused more on winning now while also helping a few players develop their games over the span of their entire junior hockey career. This, as I was told several years ago by then Tomahawks General Manager Rick Body, was because Johnstown is a hockey market that expects to win.

A few of those players that spend three-plus years with Johnstown have been guys like:

  • Chris Trouba (4 seasons)

  • Ethan Webb (currently in his 4th season)

  • Samuel Solenski (3 seasons)

  • Adam Pilewicz (3 seasons)

  • Casey Linkenheld (3 seasons)

  • Joe Kile (3 Seasons)

  • Pavel Kharin (3 Seasons)

  • Dalton Hunter (3 seasons)

  • Logan Hudson (3 seasons)

  • Mitchell Hall (3 seasons)

  • Filips Buncis (3 seasons)

  • Roman Kraemer (3 seasons)

So far, in his junior hockey career, Murphy has won one award. After the 2018-19 season, Murphy was awarded the NAHL (East) Academic Achievement Award. I feel that won't be the only award he'll win before his junior hockey career is finished.

Murphy, a 2000 birth year player, is in his last season with the Johnstown Tomahawks as he'll age out of junior hockey at the end of this current season.

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