Absence, it is said, makes the heart grow fonder.
For Port Coquitlam's Andrew Murphy, being away from the game of lacrosse also made him hungrier.
And his timely return has given him a taste of winning, to boot.
Murphy is a big part of the Tri-Cities Bandits successful march through the West Coast Senior B Lacrosse circuit this year, as the club earned its fifth straight league title.
They swept the Valley Rebels 3-0 last week, capped with a 14-5 mauling in PoCo.
Murphy, who led all shooters with 18 goals and 20 assists over seven playoff games, was selected the league's playoff MVP.
For someone who's never experienced a provincial championship in 12 years of lacrosse action, it's all icing from now on.
"This is just a good group of guys," said Murphy of the Bandits' success. "Everyone is accountable to each other, everyone knows their job and does it.
"We've really put the pieces together."
His route to the Bandits roster followed a bad bounce almost two years ago. As a two-year veteran, Murphy took on a bigger offensive role with the Maple Ridge Burrards of the Western Lacrosse Association in 2010, but an off-season knee injury cost him all of 2011.
While enduring an extended rehab program, Murphy chose to focus on his job with Burnaby's parks and recreation department and put boxla in the background. Some friends encouraged him to shake off the rust and try out for Tri-City this year.
"I trained hard, did the physio and knew the process," he noted. "I had a couple of friends on the Bandits who said I should come out - I didn't have high expectations but things went well from the start."
The rust appeared non-existent, as the six-foot-one lefthander finished third overall in league scoring with 35 goals and 42 assists over 19 games.
Even in junior, his offensive skills took a backseat to his usual checking role - emerging in his final season with 27 goals and 29 assists over 21 games as a member of the PoCo junior Saints.
By his second year in Maple Ridge, Murphy moved up the ranks and contributed 11 goals and 18 assists over 15 games. The team was quickly ushered out of the playoffs.
That's where this year's run has been a true treat for the renewed sniper.
The key, Murphy notes, is that the Bandits may be the reigning senior B power but they don't take it for granted.
"There are lots of leaders in this dressing room, and a lot of the guys have been together for a long time," said Murphy. "I think I offer some leadership, having played at a higher level before. I read the floor well and put the ball in the net."
In the future, Murphy is looking at heading back to senior A and a possible tryout in the National Lacrosse League. For now, his focus is on seeing how far the club can go at the Presidents Cup championship in Edmonton.
"For me, winning the provincial championship was awesome. I've never won a provincial title before. I've never been out of the first round of the playoffs before."
The Bandits are in the mix of seven teams competing for the Presidents title. Their first game comes Monday against the host Slash.
The tourney rolls until Sept. 2.
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