New Rangers goalie a keeper

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:38 AM ET

John Murray has special memories of Kitchener from a visit when he was a little kid.

Now as a member of the Ontario Hockey League's Rangers, he's leaving fans with much to remember.

A native of Lancaster, Pa., Murray has taken over the OHL. The 19-year-old is 20-3-1 and leads the league in every major goaltending category, except wins, where he is tied for second. He has won his past 12 starts, and has not lost since Nov. 3.

"In 12 years (he has been in the OHL) I have not had one goaltender play this well over a long period of time," Rangers general manager/coach Peter DeBoer said. "I've had Robert Esche (in Plymouth), Scott Dickie won a Memorial Cup here, Rob Zepp, Dan Turple. (Murray) has been at the top of that heap."

Murray spent two years with Sioux Falls of the United States Hockey League and was signed by the Rangers in May. Familiarity with Kitchener helped.

The cities of Kitchener and Lancaster take part in an annual program called the Kitchener/Lancaster Friendship Exchange. Now in its 35th year, participants in each city go to the other to play hockey for a weekend and stay with a local family. Murray did it when he was seven.

Last spring, Murray had planned to go to the University of Maine for a visit regarding its hockey program. But he changed his mind and travelled to Kitchener, where he met with DeBoer and his staff.

"(Knowing the city) was in the back of my mind when I was deciding what I wanted," said Murray, who has not been drafted and attended the New York Rangers rookie camp in the fall. "It was an added bonus. And there was the whole bit about playing 36 games in college or getting a full season here.

"I love playing in Kitchener. The fans are great, and the guys in the room will lay their heart on a line for each other. Everybody has been there for me."

BRIEFLY

Brett MacLean of the Oshawa Generals is riding a 22-game points streak, during which he has 18 goals and 19 assists ... After a surprisingly good start, the St. Mike's Majors have one win in their past 10 and have fallen to last place in the Central Division.


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