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Murray leads to blocking brigade

Goaltender Jeremy Helvig’s best friends aren’t his goal posts, but rather the blocking brigade on the Kingston Frontenacs.

Chief among the players sacrificing his body for the sake of a blocked shot is defenceman Liam Murray.

“I think if you had to pick anybody out who is going to block a shot, it would probably be Liam Murray,” head coach Jay Varady said.

“He does a great job at it. He’s committed, he’s a tough player. He does the little things like that to help us win hockey games.”

Helvig certainly appreciates his teammates blocking shots.

“Liam Murray blocks a lot of shots. He’s been great for us as a veteran player,” Helvig said about the Frontenacs overage defenceman. “Really, the team has been great defensively. When we need the blocked shots, they block shots. When I need to make saves, I’ve made the saves. It’s been working so far.”

The Frontenacs will be back working on it Wednesday night in Oshawa, where Helvig and company will be seeking a sixth consecutive Ontario Hockey League win.

The 20-year-old Murray will be ready to do his thing again against the Generals. Murray, who scored his first goal of the season in last Friday’s 7-1 win over Oshawa, takes pride in his ability to block shots. He has often gone to the bench on the limp after making a block.

“There is little things everyone can do to keep the puck out of your net. As a defenceman, the role that I’ve embraced over my career is blocking shots and not having any fear of doing that,” Murray said.

“It is kind of like scoring goals for me. Instead of putting the puck in the net, I try to keep it out. It is a certain skill that you’ve got to learn to put in your game over time.”

Varady said knowing what a goaltender prefers is part of the art form of blocking shots.

“Some goalies want to see the release point more than others. Some guys don’t want guys sliding in front of the puck, they want to see the puck when it comes off the stick,” Varady said.

Helvig said blocking shots also comes down to what the other team is trying to do.

“When teams try to screen me, our defence tries to block [out opposing players] so I can see the puck,” Helvig said.

“With the goalie we have, we don’t really need to worry about giving him shots just because of how good he is,” Murray said. “But if you do have a chance where you can get out and take away that lane, then I think it is something that every guy should be willing to do.”

Murray’s main rule for a block is to commit to it.

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