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Langley, British Columbia – The Trinity Western men’s hockey team added a massive piece, quite literally, to its blueline as Spartans coach Dwayne Lowdermilk officially announced the signing of 6-foot-5, 240-pound defenceman Blair Murphy (Victoria, B.C.) Wednesday.

The hulking blueliner joins the Spartans after playing American Tier III Junior “A” hockey in Montana for the past two years with both the Helena Bighorns and, most recently, the Missoula Maulers. Murphy played for Helena and Missoula in 2010-11 when they were both in the Northern Pacific Hockey League (NORPAC) and then stayed on with the Maulers for the 2011-12 season when they, along with the Bighorns, transferred to the America West Hockey League (AWHL).

In his first and only season playing in the AWHL, Murphy, suiting up with Missoula, was named the league’s top defenceman as he registered 10 goals and 29 assists in 38 games while compiling 52 penalty minutes. Along the way, he was also named AWHL defensive player of the week on four occasions.

Through two years playing in the NORPAC and AWHL, he accumulated 18 goals and 58 assists in 87 games to go along with 154 penalty minutes.

Prior to his stint playing in the United States, Murphy played Junior “B” hockey for his hometown Victoria Cougars of the VIJHL. In 44 games during the 2009-10 campaign, he had one goal, five assists and 67 penalty minutes.

“Blair is a big defenseman, who impresses you with his size and strength,” Lowdermilk said. “But he is definitely more than just a big body. He has an incredible first pass and a remarkably accurate shot. Blair is a very personable young man with great leadership skills, which makes him a welcome addition to our school and team.”

Off the ice this past season, Murphy was honoured with an AWHL Community Service Award for his work with the Special Olympics and the Montana Food Bank Network. He also delivered teddy bears to local hospitalized children and volunteered with the Introductory Hockey Program, which introduces the sport to local youths.

“This is a very exciting time in my life to be able to join Trinity Western,” said Murphy, who plans to study kinesiology. “I have taken a tour of the facilities and it is one of the nicest schools I have seen. I’m thrilled to join the Spartans hockey team and I look forward to helping it grow as I continue to pursue my dream of playing professional hockey down the road.”

Murphy joins centre Jamie Russell (Surrey, B.C.) and goalie Harry Fredeman (Delta, B.C.) as Lowdermilk’s three announced recruits for the 2012-13 campaign.

About Spartans Men’s Hockey

This fall, the Trinity Western men’s hockey program will enter its third season under the Spartans umbrella after the BCIHL-playing Trinity Western Titans joined Spartans Athletics for the 2010-11 campaign. Prior to 2010, it had been 20 years since men’s hockey had been part of the Trinity Western varsity program.

After finishing fourth in the BCIHL playoffs for five straight years, the Spartans saw its streak come to an end in 2011-12 when they missed the playoffs following a 4-15-4 regular season record and a sixth place finish.

The Spartans hockey program was first developed in 1973-1974 when they competed in the Fraser Valley Hockey League. In 1976-77 the Spartans, under head coach Allan Kotanen joined the BCCAA, where they continued to play until the 1990-91 season.