Senior keeping nose to grindstone

first_imgYANA PASKOVA/Herald PhotoThere is no doubt that the No. 4 Wisconsin men’s hockey team is a hard-working team. But given a choice of picking the player who is hardest on himself and perhaps the hardest working, Ryan MacMurchy may be the choice.He brought an energy and work ethic with him to Wisconsin three years ago and has only built on it since then.”That’s my personality, I’m hard on myself,” the senior winger said. “I’m a perfectionist, and that’s what drives me to do better.”After being recruited by former UW head coach Jeff Sauer, joining the Badgers in their transition year and Mike Eaves’ debut season could have been a struggle.Instead, MacMurchy’s drive to succeed fit the new head coach’s system — every player started on the same level and had to work their way into the lineup — worked perfectly for the then-freshman MacMurchy.”It was great because everything was fresh,” MacMurchy said. “[I] just came in and worked every day and got a ton of ice-time that year.”That work ethic that put him in the lineup as a rookie hasn’t changed and neither has his drive to succeed. And that’s why he’s not happy right now.MacMurchy finished among the top three in scoring for the Badgers in his first three seasons at UW and came into his senior season as the team’s current career leader with 36 goals, 49 assists and 85 points.He had built on his point total every year — after scoring 24 his freshman season, he increased his productivity to 33 points a year ago. In his final season donning the cardinal and white, he expected a similar increase, so sitting fifth on the team with 18 points in 27 games this year just doesn’t cut it for him.”It’s pretty average, kind of inconsistent,” MacMurchy said of his senior season thus far. “I haven’t put up the kind of production I wanted to. I feel like I should’ve been able to be more productive this year, but it just hasn’t worked out that way.”Despite the disappointment in his point production, the Regina, Saskatchewan native says that he has been able to develop his game more this year.”I’m making better decisions and less turnovers,” MacMurchy said. “I’m not a very flashy player, but I make good decisions and I move the puck well, and I’m smarter than I used to be and more experienced. You’ve just got to keep working on trying to get those pucks to go in.”But MacMurchy’s teammates know that it’s not all about goal-scoring and offense. The attitude he brings with him to the ice every day, in practices and in games, is inspiration enough for them.”I like to look at him as the same type of player as me,” freshman winger Jack Skille said. “He’s a work horse down low, and he tries his hardest out there always, and he’s always competing, and he’s got a really great competitive attitude. That’s something you need from your teammates, and he definitely leads by example.””He’s a great teammate and a great guy with incredible work ethic,” junior Andrew Joudrey said. “It rubs off on you. It shows how good of a guy he is.”Joudrey, one of UW’s assistant captains, should know — he’s known MacMurchy since the two reunited at Wisconsin.When Joudrey showed up to play for the Notre Dame Hounds of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, he didn’t know anybody. He was quickly paired up on a line with the elder MacMurchy who took him under his wing.”I was kind of a fish out of water,” Joudrey said. “He was great. He brought me along everywhere and showed me the ropes of the whole process.”That friendship was rekindled and has only grown since Joudrey joined the Badger lineup two years ago. The two are friends on and off the ice and roommates when the team goes on the road.”We had a great relationship and had a lot of success,” MacMurchy said of their time together with the Hounds. “He’s one of my best friends on the team and we know each other really well.”MacMurchy takes pride in leading by example and maintaining his energy and work ethic, but in the end, his lack of numbers on the offensive end still bugs him.Then again, he also knows that there is still work to be done this season. He has fulfilled one dream of playing at a major Division I university already, but another goal, winning a national championship, is still in the works.He is focused on leading his team through the WCHA and NCAA playoffs in hopes of reaching that goal.”I’m working as hard as I can,” MacMurchy said. “I want to bring up that part of my game and help contribute as well. I’m really big on improving, and I’ve kind of been in a little stalemate.”I’m really focused on trying to be more of a go-to guy and more of a goal-scorer in the second half.”Up just two points in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, the Badgers will be looking to their veteran players, including MacMurchy, to lead them to achieve their lofty goals.The senior winger may be able to jump-start his offense this weekend when UW takes on Ohio State at Lambeau Field. Growing up in Saskatchewan, Canada, he is no stranger to cold weather and playing outside.MacMurchy described a peewee game that he played in when the temperature was 40 degrees below zero on a small-town rink.”I remember our whole team was wearing gloves underneath and between intermission. We all took our skates off and passed the blow dryer around trying to warm our feet up,” he said. “That’s one of my bad experiences with cold weather, but that’s extreme.”Although he’s had bad experiences with cold-weather games, MacMurchy shares the excitement of his teammates heading into the Frozen Tundra Classic this weekend.”It’s going to bring back childhood memories playing outdoors again,” MacMurchy said. “It should be a fun game.”last_img read more

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