Through the first nine weeks of this series, all the highlighted players have been either forwards or defensemen. That changes this week with Allen Americans goaltender Jamie Murray in the spotlight.
A native of Scituate, Massachusetts, Murray put together an absolutely stellar college career at NCAA DIII Babson College. From his sophomore year on, Murray played in 22+ games each season with goals-against-averages between 1.50 and 1.68, and save percentages of .940 or better. His career .940 save percentage ranks second in NCAA DIII history.
"Jamie has left an indelible mark on the Babson hockey record books as one of the most decorated players in our history, and he now has a tremendous opportunity ahead of him,"Babson head coach Jamie Rice said in a statement last year. "The Sharks organization is renowned for their development of players and I know they will help Jamie reach his full potential."
He earned a tryout with the Allen Americans at the end of last season and kept his momentum going. Murray had 4 games in goal with a 1.44 goals against average and a .963 save percentage.
The Sharks organization signed Murray to an AHL contract on July 11, 2016.
The 6'3", 161-pound netminder has already shown an impressive skill set to his coaches.
Allen head coach Steve Martinson said Murray's quickness is definitely his best asset. "His side-to-side mobility is definitely the strongest part of his game."
Now in his first official season as a professional, there have been some growing pains.
Despite making his 2016-17 season debut with a 35-save shutout, he only earned one win in his next eight decisions. Playing time became rarer with Allen's resident starter Riley Gill excelling in his starts with a .938 save percentage when he was healthy.
"I think what hurt him a little bit at the beginning is that Gill was hurt, and he wasn't on his A-game, but I had to play him," Martinson said. "Maybe it wasn't the best timing to have Gill get hurt, but it's part of the process they go through when they're developing, I think."
Martinson credited Murray's brief stint where he was recalled by the Barracuda as the time he found his game and his confidence again.
Murray has seemed to turn a corner after Gill was injured again late in December. He's won 9 of his last 14 decisions - including a 6-game winning streak around the turn of the new year. He's lowered his goals-against-average to 3.41 and raised his save percentage to .904.
"He's been an iron-man for us," Martinson said. "He's done an outstanding job."