Calgary

Alberta women's hockey champ hits the ice with Oxford men's team

Though she's a good head shorter than her male teammates, this Canadian champ has proven her skill with a puck measures up, and that's really all that counts in her new full-contact hockey league.

'I just figured why not try my luck ... see if I'm good enough to make it'

Canadian champion Eden Murray hails from Medicine Hat, Alta. and studied at Yale before deciding to pursue her MBA at Oxford University, where she now plays on the men's hockey team. (John Sulit)

Smack dab in the middle of the Oxford University Blues' team photo you'll find Eden Murray, a five-foot-three Alberta woman standing proud amongst a roster of six-foot-tall men.

Though she's a good head shorter than the rest of her male teammates, the Canadian champ has proven her skill with a puck measures up, and that's really all that counts in her new full-contact hockey league.

Earlier this year, the 23-year-old from Medicine Hat, Alta., helped the Calgary Inferno win the 2019 Canadian Women's Hockey League championship — right before the CWHL abruptly announced it was shuttering for good

Murray is pursuing her MBA at Oxford University. Over the summer, she emailed the captain of the Oxford Blues varsity hockey team to inquire about tryouts.

"I didn't disclose my gender, though, because I wasn't sure if they allowed girls on the team at that point," she told the Calgary Eyeopener.

Eden Murray, 23, wears No. 33 for the Oxford Blues. (John Sulit)

"I just figured, why not try my luck, and try out for the men's, and see if I'm good enough to make it."

Sure enough, she made the cut. And she doesn't feel the least bit out of place there.

"They're so friendly and accommodating," Murray said. "Even the first day … I was just like another teammate, which is exactly what I was hoping for."

Yes, that means they bodycheck her. No, she doesn't mind.

"There is that expectation that they have to hit me, just like they would hit any other guy. That's been pretty positive, too, in terms of just equality," she said.

As an added bonus, practically half the team is Canadian. A handful of Americans, a sprinkling of Eastern Europeans and a couple of Brits comprise the rest, Murray said.

Rich hockey tradition

While the U.K. isn't necessarily known for its hockey prowess, Murray said she was pleasantly surprised by her new team's skating ability.

She's also been awed by the institution's rich hockey tradition.

The team, which dates back to 1885, has had a number of high profile individuals in its lineup over the past century, including former Canadian prime minister Lester B. Pearson, Canada's Attorney General David Lametti and Mark Carney, former governor of the Bank of Canada who now serves as the governor of the Bank of England. 

The Oxford Blues' logo is proudly displayed on this make-shift beer stein, fashioned from a WWI German artillery shell by members of the hockey team. (Eden Murray)

Oxford also boasts that it's part of one of the oldest hockey rivalries in the world, between itself and Cambridge University.

"Apparently we hate each other," said Murray, who's got the date of that particular end-of-November face-off circled on her calendar.

"We'll see how that game goes as far as checking and what not," she said.

But besides the hockey history, Murray revels in the city's majestic architecture and the university's deep-rooted traditions.

"The campus is close to 1,000 years old. When you see and read about stuff like that … it's pretty amazing just to be allowed to walk around here."

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