Women’s Ice Hockey Team’s Unstoppable Marie-Philip Poulin
Two-time Olympic gold medalist has her eyes set on Hockey East, Beanpot, NCAA titles
On a chilly night last fall, Marie-Philip Poulin (CAS ’15), captain of the women’s ice hockey team, was showing her trademark prowess on the ice. With the Terriers shorthanded in the first period, the Connecticut Huskies were trailing by a goal and trying desperately to even up the score. A UConn player sent a pass across the ice intended for a teammate, but Poulin, like a tiger sniffing its prey, seemed to come out of nowhere and pounced on the puck to force a turnover.
Five seconds later, the 23-year-old forward put the puck in the back of the net to give her team a two-goal lead that helped the Terriers clinch the game.
Poulin’s lethal shot, catlike agility, and ability to elevate her teammates both on and off the ice has made her one of the most gifted and admired women’s ice hockey players in the world and a two-time Olympic gold medalist (more about that later).
“She’s a great player, she’s very innovative on the ice” says teammate Sarah Lefort (SAR’16). There’s always something she’s pulling out of her back pocket. Always keeps me on my toes.”
How does one go about coaching someone with so much natural talent? It’s a challenge says women’s ice hockey head coach Brian Durocher (SED’78). “One thing I’ll do is try not to over-coach her,” Durocher says. “Part of that is that she doesn’t have very many flaws. She plays defense first, she’s committed to hard work, she challenges herself all the time, and she’s a good teammate.”
“I don’t think you can play with anyone better than her,” says Lefort, echoing Durocher.
A native of Canada, Poulin grew up in Beauceville, Quebec, a town with only 6,000 residents. She took up figure skating at age four, but didn’t like it, and by age five was emulating her older brother and role model, Pier-Alexandre, by taking up hockey. By the time she was 16, she was so accomplished that she left her family and moved to Montreal to play for the Montreal Stars, part of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL).
“Moving out of my hometown and away from my parents was a big step,” Poulin says. “Switching to an English school when I had no idea how to speak English was hard, for sure.”
Poulin dominated on the ice, helping the Stars win the CWHL title and becoming the leading scorer in the U18 World Championship tournament. Along the way, she received valuable mentorship from some of the game’s greats, such as Caroline Ouellette, Kim St-Pierre, and Jayna Hefford.
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