SOCHI, RUSSIA - With a gold medal on the line Thursday, Canada women’s hockey coach Kevin Dineen knew exactly who he wanted to get the puck: Marie-Philip Poulin.
“There’s something there with Pou,’’ Dineen said. “She doesn’t speak a lot, but I always kind of catch her eyes. And there’s something in her eyes that spells big-game player.’’
Poulin cemented her place in her country’s hockey lore as Canada beat the U.S. — again — for the Olympic gold medal. Four years ago, the 22-year-old forward scored the only two goals in Canada’s 2-0 victory over the Americans for the gold at the Vancouver Winter Games. In Thursday’s 3-2 triumph, she scored the tying goal with 54.6 seconds left in the third period, then beat U.S. goalie Jessie Vetter for the winning goal on a power play in overtime.
That’s four goals for Poulin, two for the U.S. and two gold medals around her neck. Poulin took a one-year leave from Boston University, where she has one year of eligibility left, to train with Team Canada for the Olympics. She will return to the Terriers next season, but for now, she will enjoy her status as a national treasure.
“I couldn’t believe it tonight,’’ said Poulin, who finished the Olympic tournament with four goals and one assist. “It’s the best feeling ever. It was hard, but we never gave up.’’
Teammate Jayna Hefford knows what Dineen means about that look in Poulin’s eyes. “She is the best player in women’s hockey, hands down,’’ Hefford said. “To have her on your team, you know she’s going to come through in the big moment.’’
Gophers women’s hockey fans got a good look at Poulin last spring, when she helped lead the Terriers to the NCAA championship game at Ridder Arena. The BU cocaptain had a goal and an assist in a 6-3 loss to the Gophers. Her play and leadership was instrumental in BU compiling a program-record 28 victories.
Poulin, from Beauceville, Quebec, made the NCAA all-tournament team with three goals and three assists in two games. That ended a season in which she scored 19 goals and a team-record 36 assists. In 79 games over three seasons, Poulin has 54 goals and 73 assists.
An injury kept Poulin out of several games before the Olympics, but she showed no ill effects in Sochi. Dineen said his team “got the puck on the right stick’’ when they set her up for her two goals Thursday.
Hefford expects to see the same thing happen many more times.
“She is a great leader, a great teammate and she’s going to be around for a long time,’’ Hefford said.
“She’s going to be the captain of this team in the future for sure. I don’t think she gets enough credit for how good she is. I think she showed the world tonight that she’s the best player in the world.’’