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Murray High School club hockey team honors fallen comrade, works to defend state title

Nov 01, 2017 10:21AM ● Published by Carl Fauver

The Murray Police Honor Guard joined in the championship banner raising ceremony. (Facebook/Murray Hockey)

Gallery: Murray High School Hockey [4 Images] Click any image to expand.

It was a night of mixed emotions earlier this fall when the Murray High School club hockey team hosted a ceremony on its home ice, to remember one of the organization’s best moments ever, along with its worst.

Before playing and winning their second game of the season, the Spartans unfurled their new state championship hockey banner, before a delirious crowd.

But they also paused in a much more somber moment to recall an accident, seven years ago, that claimed the life of one of their biggest supporters.

“It was a great night, even though it also brought back some painful memories,” said Murray Hockey Coach Tim Hale. “The Murray Police Honor Guard participated along with the widow and children of Dave Brown. Many people were crying. It was very moving.”

Hale wasn’t involved with the Murray program on that tragic night, November 17, 2010, when Brown, 48, slipped on the hockey ice.  Landing hard on his head, Brown spent two weeks in a medically-induced coma, before passing away December 1, 2010, after suffering a stroke.

“Dave was the team’s manager and bookkeeper,” Hale said. “He was on the ice trying to help move a Zamboni (ice resurfacer) that had stopped and was leaking water. The ice became very slick and his feet slipped out from under him. It was just a terrible, freak accident. We were pleased Dave’s former wife, Michelle, his daughter Maddie, and his two sons, Parker and Dakota, could join us for the ceremony.”

Parker, who was on an LDS mission at the time of his father’s death, dropped the ceremonial puck in remembrance of his father.

Thankfully, the night wasn’t all about sad memories. One of the happiest events in the history of Murray club hockey came earlier this year, when the team claimed its first state hockey title since 1999 and 2000, with a 6-4 win over Park City in the championship game.

The night’s ceremony ended with the unveiling of the team’s new state championship banner in the Salt Lake County Ice Center, adjacent to Murray Park. The large crowd gave a cheer and Hale said it was a scene his team would like to repeat next spring.

“I think we will get back to the championship game at the end of this season,” he said. “I think most of the other teams will consider us the favorite to repeat. But our players know there are some other very tough teams. They’ll have to work hard to do it.” 

The Murray High School club hockey team followed up their win on banner night with a state championship rematch with Park City the following week. Playing on the road, the Spartans crushed the Miners 8-1.

“It looks like graduation (with last year’s seniors no longer eligible to play) killed them a lot more than it did us,” Hale said.

Murray lost six seniors off last year’s championship team. But a group of nine juniors last year are now back for one final season. Among them are the coach’s son, Dillon Hale, and Mike Richins, who Hale calls “the best high school hockey goalie in Utah.”

“I appreciate him saying that; it feels pretty good,” said Richins. “It will be a battle this year (repeating as state champions). But I’ve been playing hockey since age 8 and that’s certainly my goal for this last high school season.”

Richins also thanked his coach. “He sees the game differently and offers great insight,” he said. “He’s also very motivational.”

When the coach is also Dad, things can be seen a bit differently.

“It’s kind of hard; sometimes you want to talk back to him,” said Hale’s son, Dillon. “And sometimes you might not get the recognition you think you deserve. But I definitely would not want to have any other coach.”

This is Hale’s third season as the Spartans hockey coach. With a 12-year-old son coming up through the junior hockey ranks, he hopes to remain on the job a few more years.

But right now his and the team’s focus is on earning a second state championship banner, and possibly a return trip to the national championship tournament they participated in last spring in Cleveland, Ohio.  

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