Lexie Murphy calls it a perfect situation.
The 18-year-old centre from Kensington will join the UPEI Panthers for the 2019-20 Atlantic University Sport women’s hockey season.
“I’m really excited and grateful for this opportunity,” said Murphy, who will study environmental sciences. “I’ve always wanted to play hockey at the varsity level.”
The opportunity to continue her education while playing university hockey in her home province is not lost on Murphy.
“I grew up watching the Panthers as a kid and my first memory of women’s hockey was watching Hayley Wickenheiser play at the Bell Aliant Centre (on the UPEI campus),” said the 18-year-old daughter of Bob and Kim Murphy. “My support system is here on P.E.I., so that’s a big plus.
“My family loves to watch the game and they will, without a doubt, be at every game.”
Murphy began playing minor hockey in Kensington before joining the very successful Mid-Isle Wildcats’ female program. She played at Ridley College in St. Catharines, Ont., last season before returning home following the hockey season to complete her senior year and graduate at Kensington Intermediate-Senior High School (KISH), where she was named the 2017-18 female athlete of the year. She was a member of the Wildcats’ team that qualified for the 2017 Esso Cup Canadian female hockey championship.
Murphy, who recorded nine points – three goals and six assists – in six games for Team P.E.I. at the 2019 Canada Winter Games, registered eight goals, nine assists and 17 points in 22 games with Ridley College in the Junior Women’s Hockey League (JWHL). She was also selected to play in the JWHL all-star game.
“I got to play against some of the best female players in North America and got to travel to a lot of neat places,” said Murphy. “It was a good experience.”
UPEI head coach Bruce Donaldson said Murphy “brings a strong skill set” to the Panthers.
“We have had some great players come out of the Ridley program, so we are very excited to see Lexie joining ours,” he added. “She has great size, plays aggressively and should transition into the U Sports level nicely.”
Murphy noted “UPEI has a great reputation” and she is looking forward to playing under Donaldson.
“Bruce Donaldson is a great leader and brings out the best in his players,” said Murphy. “I really think I’ll develop under him.
“There are players on the team that I’ve always looked up to and strived to play like, so it’s exciting to actually be able to play with these girls.”
Asked what she hopes to bring to the Panthers, Murphy replied: “I hope to bring my love for the game, determination, and (strong) work ethic. I find myself a team player and I believe I’ll jell well with the girls on the team, which leads to success on the ice.”
Murphy is also excited that the Panthers are guaranteed a berth in the U Sports national women’s hockey championship in March as host team for the second year in a row.
“It’s awesome that we’re hosting nationals this year,” said Murphy, the 2018 Hockey P.E.I. female player of the year. “It will be an incredible experience that not every female university hockey player gets to experience and I’ll be able to play against some of the best girls in Canada. I’ll be proud to represent P.E.I.”