When college students graduate, their goal is pretty universal: to get a job. For Castleton State College alumnus Colin Murray, it’s plausible to say his job is every young aspiring athlete’s dream come true.
Murray is playing for the Evansville Icemen in Indiana – and being paid to do so. The team is part of the East Coast Hockey League. The ECHL is two levels below arguably the most premiere hockey league in the world – the NHL.
“I love it,” Murray said. “It’s a grind because of so much turnover and it’s hard to keep a job because it’s so competitive.”
He played forward for the Spartans from 2011 until 2014, accumulating 30 goals and 39 assists in 85 games played.
“[He has] all the tools. He skates well, good hands. A man amongst boys at times,” head coach Stephen Moffat said about his former goal scorer. “I think that’s what attracted him to the next level.”
Of course, as expected there are some stark differences between college and pro hockey, from the style of play to differences in player caliber.
“It was more run-and-gun at Castleton, but more systematic here,” Murray said. “Skill -wise things are faster, but the game is slower … players are more conditionally sound.”
The ECHL is an incredible accomplishment, but is the NHL too high of a goal?
“It’s all about timing and chance. You play and hope to get called up. There’s a lot of good players that are waiting on their chance,” said Murray.
Murray has played for two different teams so far in the 2014-15 season; the Kalamazoo Wings and currently the Evansville Icemen, both of the ECHL. He has eight goals and six assists in 25 games played.
Murray was lauded on the Evansville Icemen website, saying he made an “immediate impact” upon his arrival.
He recorded an assist on his Dec 12 debut against Fort Wayne. In addition, he notched his first multi-point game on Dec. 20 with a goal and an assist against the Reading Royals, the website reads.
Murray explained the split decision a hockey player has to make if he wants to go pro. In relevance to graduation, he said you have to decide whether you want to enter the workforce or continue playing early enough to prepare.
“When senior year started, I realized I wanted to play hockey for a living,” said Murray.