Marie-Philip Poulin: Striking double gold for Canada
At Sochi 2014, Canada’s Marie-Philip Poulin won the second ice hockey gold of her career, quite a feat for someone who had yet to turn 23. What made her achievement all the more impressive was that she scored twice in her side’s defeat of the USA in the Vancouver 2010 final and repeated the feat against the same opposition four years later.
An eye for goal
“I started out figure skating but I didn’t like it, and I got into hockey instead,” explains Marie-Philip Poulin, who has made a name for herself as a gifted attacker blessed with outstanding vision and an ability to play in any position.
The girl from Beauceville in Quebec originally cut her teeth playing for boys’ teams. In 2008, she went on to become the leading scorer in the history of Canada’s U-18 women’s team, grabbing 31 goals in 17 matches, and helping her country win silver at the junior world championships on home ice in Calgary.
By that stage, Poulin was already being widely tipped to become Canada’s greatest women’s ice hockey player of all time. She made her senior debut in 2009 and fulfilled her dream of appearing at the Olympic Winter Games the following year in Vancouver, at the age of only 18.
“Words can’t describe this,” she said on the eve of the tournament. “Here I am alongside the Olympic champions of 2002 and 2006. It’s just incredible.” The No29 wasted little time in proving she belonged there by scoring three goals and serving up two assists in Canada’s run to the final.
A golden double
Poulin saved her best for the showpiece match against the USA, played in front of a raucous 16,800 crowd. With 13.55 on the clock in the first period, she latched onto a Jennifer Botherill pass to put the hosts into the lead and rounded off the scoring just three minutes later, following a Meghan Agosta assist.
The Canadians held onto their 2-0 lead, thanks in no small part to some superlative stops from goaltender Shannon Szabados. An elated Poulin enthused: “This is one of the best matches of my life, but it didn’t all come down to just one player. It really was a team performance and Shannon did a great job in goal. I’ve been dreaming of this for many years and here I am with the medal hanging round my neck. It hasn’t sunk in yet.”
Same again in Sochi
The spearhead and captain of NCAA club Boston Terriers, Poulin won another gold with Canada at the 2012 IHF World Championships, where they again beat the Americans, though their southern neighbours would have their revenge a year later.
The two old rivals faced off for gold once more at Sochi 2014, with the USA taking a 2-0 lead in the second period. Brianne Jenner pulled one back for the Canadians as the clock ticked down, and with just 55 seconds remaining Poulin capped an unlikely comeback by slotting in from close range to tie the score up at 2-2.
Then, eight minutes into overtime, she pounced again, hitting a golden goal to give Canada their fourth consecutive Olympic gold medal. “What an amazing feeling,” a jubilant Poulin later said. “This is unforgettable and it’s another dream come true for me here. I couldn’t ask for more.”
With her career still in its infancy, Canada’s golden girl can surely look forward to many more magical moments in the years to come.