Tommy Murray III, a senior at Lincoln-Way Central High School who lives in New Lenox, had quite a memorable – and award-winning – high school hockey career.
As a freshman on the co-op Lincoln-Way Hockey Team, he was selected as an Illinois West Hockey League Academic All-Star, a Hayes League Academic All-Star and was the team MVP. He was also selected to the Illinois West JV All-Star Game where he grabbed the game MVP honor.
He skated at the varsity level for his final three varsity seasons, and the accolades continued.
As a sophomore, he was selected as an Illinois West Hockey League Academic All-Star and was awarded the Breakout Player of the Year Award-winner.
As a junior, he was selected as an Illinois West Hockey League Academic All-Star, to the Illinois West Hockey League Varsity All-Star Game where he won MVP of the game, and to the Illinois Team for the annual America’s Showcase Tournament. Murray also was selected by his teammates to serve as assistant captain and was awarded the Michael Guzy ‘Biggest Heart Award.’ He was awarded the Illinois West Scholastic Achievement Award.
This past season, Murray was selected as an Illinois West Hockey League Academic All-Star, to the Illinois West/North-Central Hockey League Varsity All-Conference Game where he won MVP of the game, to America’s Showcase Team, and to the Illinois Boys High School Hockey All-State Game.
Murray was also team captain as a senior.
“Looking back on my senior season, it was probably one of the most fun and best seasons I ever had,” Murray said. “We had a great group of seniors, many of whom I have been fortunate enough to play all four years with, and a lot of young, new talent, too. We came together and established our goals for the year, what we wanted to accomplish as a team and immediately got to work. Like all teams, we had our ups and downs throughout the year, but we made it into the top division of our league playoffs and made it to final four in state, which was a cool moment. It was sad to see it end with the heartbreaking loss in such a close game, but (it is) amazing to look back and see how much we accomplished this season and all the memories we made.”
Murray, 18, was one of three Illinois high school players this season to be named as a 2023 Blackhawk Alumni Scholarship Recipient.
“I have some amazing memories from my years on varsity,” Murray said. “I always love going to tournaments and spending the time with either the team or my family while we’re in a new place. It’s always a blast being able to explore the city where we are staying. For instance, this year we competed in a tournament in Nashville, where not only did we have fun playing hockey, but we explored the streets and stores and ended up buying cowboy hats and boots, which we wore to our next games. Another top moment was winning the McKeague Cup last year as our team battled through so much adversity. (Advancing) to the final four in state this year, which is the farthest I have ever made it with Lincoln-Way, was great.
“It was amazing to represent my club at the All-State, All-Star and All-Conference games, and winning MVP at the All-Conference and All-Star games.”
His Senior Night also stands out, despite the team losing that night. He had 3 goals and 3 assists. “The whole night was so incredibly special because I was able to share that night with the people who mean so much to me and (those who) have helped me over the course of my hockey career. It was so great to see the turnout in the crowd with my family, friends and so many of my past teammates. It was such an amazing night, filled with memories that will last a lifetime.”
Murray added, “I was extremely grateful to be named captain this year and (was) humbled that my teammates trusted me to be in that leadership position. Being captain comes with a lot of responsibility, but I tried my best to display the qualities of a servant leader both on and off the ice and I aim to be someone who my teammates can talk to, no matter if it is hockey-related or not. There have been so many amazing captains in Lincoln-Way’s past; I was extremely honored to join them.
“I have had so many amazing moments over the course of my hockey career and am extremely blessed to play the best game on the planet for the past 13 years.”
Two memories stick out the most, he said.
“The first was during my second year playing competitive hockey, as a second-year mite, while I was playing with the Arctic Junior Fury,” Murray said. “My dad was the head coach and even though he didn’t have the most comprehensive knowledge of being a hockey coach, he sure knew how to make it fun. We had an OK season, winning just a few more games than we lost, but we did make the playoffs. We ended up being the underdog throughout the (state) tournament and upset the No. 1-seed, which had beat us by 10 goals earlier in the year. We ended up making the championship where I scored a hat trick and we ultimately won. When the final buzzer sounded, I celebrated quickly with my teammates and then skated over to find my dad and thanked him for such an awesome year. It was an amazing moment to be able to spend one of my first big championship wins with him.”
Another memorable moment came during Murray’s second year as a squirt, playing for the Romeoville Huskies. “We had a pretty good season, but unfortunately lost in the league playoffs. However, we looked forward to the state playoffs where we went on an unbelievable run and ended up winning in the state championship. While my dad wasn’t head coaching this time, he was able to be on the bench as an assistant coach throughout the year, and it was yet again, so special to be able to share such an amazing moment with him and the rest of my family.”
Not surprisingly, Murray wears uniform No. 3 because he is the third namesake.
Murray skated for the Arctic Junior Fury for his first four years of hockey, then moved to the Romeoville Huskies for the next four years. He also played for the Chicago Hawks.
“My first-ever game of competitive hockey was actually played on the United Center ice and it was such a cool experience,” Murray said. “I remember we lost in a shootout, but I did get an assist, which I was happy about considering it was my first-ever game.
“The whole day we were there was so amazing because it was really my first time attending a professional sports game and being inside a professional arena. We got dressed in one of their spare locker rooms and even met Viktor Stalberg, who played for the Blackhawks at the time. We were able to skate during the intermission through the obstacle course. I also remember being disappointed in my next few games and had to have my mom explain to me that 20,000 people don’t typically come and watch our games.
“It was still such an incredible once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
Murray is a playmaker with a pass-first approach. “I would much rather make the pass for the assist than get the goal myself,” he said. “A big part of my game is my hockey awareness and being able to see the play before it develops. I also have been able to develop my reaction time to reading certain plays, which has bolstered my game.”
Murray will skate for Illinois Team competing in the annual America’s Showcase in St. Louis, running April 20-24. Illinois, the defending tournament champions, opens tourney play against California, Arizona and Florida.
He is a repeat Showcase skater, as he skated in 2022 for Illinois’ second Showcase team.
“I am extremely honored to make the Showcase team to represent Illinois high school hockey,” Murray said. “There are so many great hockey players within the state, so just to be recognized and asked to tryout was an honor. Then be selected to be a part of the team that would represent Illinois at the Showcase was surreal.
“It means a lot to represent Illinois at the Showcase and it comes with a lot of pressure being reigning champs. Like I said, high school hockey in Illinois is so competitive and filled with so much talent. To be selected to the team is such an honor and a privilege. I am excited and hopeful (and) will play with a bit of a chip on my shoulder from the semifinal knockout last year.”
Murray said Team Illinois has a “great chance” of repeating as the team is loaded with skill and talent and will play at an incredibly fast pace.”
Murray said his parents and sister have been the biggest and most important influences throughout his hockey career. “They have been with me every step of the way and have been my biggest supporters on and off the ice,” he said. “They have traveled to every tournament and have made the trek to the rinks, battling all types of weather along the way. I am extremely blessed to have such an amazing and supportive family and am forever grateful for all they have done for me.”
Chicago Blackhawk Alumni Scholarship
Murray said he was “extremely honored and excited” to have been honored this season, along with Makenzie Russell (Homewood Flossmoor) and Daniel Weinstein (Lake Zurich).
Murray was told he was a winner by phone – from none other than Adam Burish.
Murray was speechless.
“I couldn’t contain my excitement and rushed downstairs to tell my dad who was the only one home at the time,” Murray said. “Once I finally got the words out that I had won and was talking to the Adam Burish on the phone, he said an apparently now-famous line within the Blackhawks organization, ‘Shut the front door!’ Come to find out from family friends and alumni members themselves, they now use that phrase with each other when they receive news that they can’t believe, which is funny to me, but a little embarrassing to him as now my dad is kind of a celebrity within the Blackhawks organization.
“This honor means so much to me as it makes all the hard work I’ve put into my academic career completely worth it. All the nights I spent studying, all the clubs I joined, and all the community service activities I have taken part in all culminated in that moment when I was awarded the scholarship. It felt amazing. It was so awesome to see all the time I put into my academic career finally pay off. To join such a prestigious organization like the Blackhawks is such an honor and a dream come true, especially as an avid Blackhawks fan my entire life. To be part of the organization that I grew up watching as a kid feels surreal, is hard to put into words. I am so blessed and grateful to be given this tremendous opportunity.”
Murray said the Blackhawks Luncheon was an incredible experience.
“It was a little hard to not let the fan in me take over as I was in the presence of many childhood heroes and I wanted to meet them all and get pictures, but I had to remain somewhat professional as I was accepting such a prestigious award. The Blackhawks and the alumni association did such an amazing job with both the media day, where I got to tour the facilities and watched the morning practice, and the luncheon which was such a special day. I ate lunch with Seth Jones, which was crazy to say the least. He was such a nice guy and my family and I enjoyed talking with him. Just like my senior night, the highlight had to be sharing the day with my family; it was extremely special to be able to share such a moment with them.”
Slapshots With … Tommy Murray III
All-Time Favorite Goal: “During a tournament game when I was with the Huskies. We made the championship game and the team we were facing was in a division much higher than we were, so we were not expected to win. We battled hard throughout and forced the game into overtime, in which I was not only looking to score the game-winner, but also my third of the game for the hat trick. I ended up going through two defenders to score the game-winner and my third goal of the game with :03 seconds left. I was named MVP of the game, too, so it was a cool moment and probably my favorite goal I have ever scored.”
College: Plans to pursue a degree in civil engineering. After college, Murray wants to go to law school in hopes of becoming a criminal justice attorney and eventually sitting on the Supreme Court as a judge.
Hockey Life: “The game of hockey and the community around it have been such a huge part of my life, thus shaping who I am today. I plan on being a part of this community and giving back what it has given to me.”
Favorite NHL Team: Chicago Blackhawks
All-Time Favorite NHL Player: Jonathan Toews – “He exemplifies what it means to be a leader both on and off the ice.”
Favorite Sports-themed Movie: Miracle
Favorite Pregame Meal: “Whatever my mom cooks that day. I always feel great going into games knowing that I (had) good food in my stomach that will fuel me for the game and not make me sick.”
Celebrities You’d Like To Meet: Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, his idols.
Teammates Who You Could See As A Hockey Coach: “Ty Jackson has such a calming presence and even though he might not say much, when he does, people listen and follow his lead. He is a natural leader and has a great sense for the game. Goalie Jacob Stermin has just about every quality required to be a coach. He knows how to win and how to keep things fun. Even though he’s a goalie, he sees the ice well and has a natural ability of figuring out what to change to help the team win. Also, Trey Samas is the definition of a true leader and taught me so much about what being a servant leader really is. He always put others’ needs over his own and always led by example.”
Hardest Slapshot On Your Team: Nick Lange
Most Accurate Shot: Chris Wilson and Luca Basile – “They had some absolutely amazing snipes throughout the year.”
Fastest Skater: Connor LeBeau
Favorite Jersey (other than Lincoln-Way): Maine Township