THE BEST INAUGURAL SEASON MOMENTS: THE JOE MURDACA STORY
With the dust of Abbotsford's playoff efforts settled, it is time to close the door on the Canucks' Inaugural Season in the AHL. However before the calendar flips to 2022/23, how about a trip down memory lane? In collaboration with our "Goalie Week", two more articles will be added to this series throughout this week.
Following our last piece piece re-visiting the Abbotsford Canucks' nine game win streak in April AVAILABLE HERE, Joe Murdaca gets today's spotlight.
The middle of January saw the arrival of an unexpected hero for the Abbotsford Canucks. With Spencer Martin, Michael DiPietro and Arturs Silovs all unavailable due to injuries and being recalled to Vancouver, the team looked elsewhere for help between the pipes.
Enter Joe Murdaca.
A six-foot-three goaltender who had bounced around the ECHL was set to make his professional debut in the AHL. He was signed to a Player Tryout Option on January 17th, expecting to back up Silovs for the time being. However due to illness, he was thrust into the spotlight. His opponent? The San Diego Gulls in a weekend series with back-to-back games at the Abbotsford Centre.
Murdaca's longest stint with a team was in 2019-20 with the Knoxville IceBears of the SPHL, going 16-8-2 with a .920 save percentage through 26 games. Abbotsford came into the series having won just two of their previous seven games, and were missing a handful of key players.
Joe Murdaca got the nod moments before puck drop that he would be the starting goaltender. He did all that was asked of him and more.
Stopping 13 of 16 shots on the way to a 5-3 Abbotsford victory, Murdaca picked up his first professional win in his first professional appearance.
“It felt immaculate to get my first win tonight. The vibes out there were great. It was a team win, only allowing 16 shots on net, the team put out a great effort. It was blocked shots after blocked shots tonight. The guys in front of me really put their bodies on the line tonight and wanted to win. It was a great feeling.” – Joe Murdaca.
24 hours later, Murdaca would be tested again.
The Cinderella story would continue for the Hamilton Ontario native, defeating the Gulls 4-2 in a Sunday matinee game. Stopping 19 of 21 shots, Murdaca improved to 2-0-0 as a professional, earning him the nickname "2 and 0 Joe".
“It feels great to get the win. I’m just trying to give these guys a chance to win every night. It’s all about being in the right position to make the right saves to limit rebounds. The guys in front of me make it a lot easier for me, making sure I can see the puck and making plays. Overall, it was a great team win tonight.” – Joe Murdaca.
Days later, Murdaca would be released from his PTO due to the return of DiPietro and Silovs, and would later return to the ECHL's Atlanta Gladiators to help out their playoff run. 2 and 0 Joe would rack up 32 saves and a .865 save percentage in what have been his only two professional starts.
Called upon during the Canucks' time of need, Murdaca stepped up to the plate when it mattered most.