NEW GLASGOW – For Cole Murphy, coming to play junior hockey in Pictou County is almost like coming home.
The 19-year-old Halifax native committed to the Weeks Crushers for the 2014-15 season on Tuesday night. He said he has a lot of connections to the county, although that wasn’t his only reason for the commitment after spending the last three seasons in the QMJHL with the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles and Sherbrooke Phoenix.
“My grandparents still live there and my grandfather goes to Crushers all the time,” said Murphy. “My dad grew up playing in New Glasgow and my mom was from Stellarton so I still have lots of links there. I’m really looking forward to going back where I went a lot as a kid.”
Mike Lyle, also a 19-year-old forward, committed Tuesday night as well. He played a portion of the 2011-12 season with the Crushers before being called up by the Acadie-Bathurst Titan. In the following two seasons he played with the Titan and Cape Breton Screaming Eagles.
“When I started there I was 16 and it was my first time playing junior,” said Lyle. “The community and the boys were so good to me. Jason (Malone) also gave me an opportunity to start my career somewhere. It didn’t all work out (in the QMJHL), but I thought it was best to go back to Pictou County.”
The decision by the two to commit to the Crushers on the same day isn’t a complete coincidence as the two are good friends. Murphy said that he and Lyle went to school together for a few years, played hockey together and were also both on Team Nova Scotia’s men’s hockey team at the 2011 Canada Games.
“I think we both want to commit, but wanted to see how things played out,” said Murphy.
“For me, I know Jason and the Crushers staff really let me and Mike take our time (deciding). They didn’t push too hard. They just let us know they wanted us to come play and were welcoming and patient. We appreciated it as we were at Q camps.”
Coming into camp both players know they’re on the older end of the spectrum and hope to become leaders in the room. Neither have specific personal goals only that they want to help the Crushers win games and be successful this season.
“Being on a few losing teams in the Q in recent years I really want to come in, win some games and help the Crushers have a great season,” said Murphy.
“I haven’t really set any goals to be honest,” said Lyle. “I just want to help us win every night. I definitely want to get points and chip in some goals, but most importantly I want to be reliable out there in any situation they put me in.”
Both also hope to bring an offensive presence when they step on the ice, but also added they’ll play a more defensive role if they’re asked to.
“Right now I think I can play both ends of the ice,” said Lyle. “I haven’t been in an offensive role in the last few years, but think that was a big part of my game growing up. I had three years in the Q and a stint in Pictou, so I know what a leadership role entails. When I was 16 I know the guys really helped me out, so hopefully I can do that for some of the young guys this season.”
On Wednesday, Pictou County also confirmed that the 2013-14 NSMMHL leading scorer, Luc Poirier, had committed to the team this season. Poirier had 15 goals and 52 points in 34 games with the Halifax McDonalds.
The Weeks Crushers training camp gets underway on Aug 28. with three practices. They have a full day of intersquad games on Friday before their first exhibition game on Aug. 30 in Summerside.
Their first home exhibition game is Aug. 31 at 3 p.m., the second half of the home-and-home with Summerside.
On Twitter: @NGNewsChris