For most 17-year-olds, summertime means spending time with friends and staying out late. Connor Murphy, a defenseman who will represent the U.S. at the upcoming Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament, has other plans.
He's at the rink or in the gym every day trying to get ahead of the competition as he prepares for the elite internation summer hockey tournament, which will be held August 9-14 in Slovakia and the Czech Republic. Beyond that, he has a full season with the U.S. National Team Development Program Under-18 squad to look forward to.
"I'm trying to treat my summer like I'm in-season right now and get in shape as much as possible so that when the season comes, I'll actually be a step ahead of everyone," Murphy said.
He's gotten a lot of help from his father, Gord Murphy, who played 14 NHL seasons and is entering his first season as an assistant coach with the Florida Panthers.
"He's taken me out skating every week and putting me through workouts," Murphy said. "He knows a lot of the weaknesses that I need to work on to be one of the top defensemen. He knows what it takes to be a very good defenseman."
Wearing the red, white and blue is important to Murphy. Last year, he represented the U.S. at the Under-17 Five Nations Tournament in Germany, and was on the roster for the 2010 Vlad Druzilla Under-18 Tournament in Slovakia.
"It's always great to wear the USA jersey as much as possible," Murphy said. "It's obviously the best competition in the world. Canada only has one team going (to the Hlinka tournament), compared to last year at the World (Under-17) Challenge. They have a bunch of teams from different districts."
Murphy finds some time to relax—after practice, of course—with a good friend and teammate Sean Kuraly.
"We go through it together, working out here. It's always fun being at the rink," Murphy said. "Any night we get, we just kind of hang out a bit."
Murphy doesn't really mind that hockey has taken up most of his summer.
"I love skating," he said, "so it's not that bad."