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Kaz Watch: Marie-Philip Poulin is back at full strength on the ice

02/26/2013, 9:00am MST
By Doug Williams
Special to USAHockey.com

Poulin is one of the key pieces to a BU team that could be headed to the NCAA playoffs for a fourth straight season.

Marie-Philip Poulin has some very nice stats this year for Boston University.
 
In helping the fourth-ranked Terriers to a 23-5-3 record, the junior forward has 45 points and is averaging 1.55 points per game.
 
But the key stat for Poulin is under “GP.”
 
After appearing in just 16 games in 2011-12 with a ruptured spleen and missing several games her freshman season with an assortment of injuries, Poulin has 29 games played this year.
 
“It’s good just to be with the team every day and practicing and playing every game,” said Poulin, a contender for the Patty Kazmaier Award given to the nation’s best college women’s hockey player.
 
She calls last season a challenge. For a young woman accustomed to going all out on the ice, having to take time out to heal wasn’t any fun at all.
 
“It was one of my hardest seasons,” she said. “Just to be there and sitting. But I think it’s a learning experience.”
 
This season, Poulin is one of the key pieces to a BU team that could be headed to the NCAA playoffs for a fourth straight season. The co-captain is tied for second on the team in goals (14) and leads in points, but the Terriers — who clinched the Hockey East regular-season title this past weekend — are deep and balanced, with seven players who have 20 or more points.
 
Poulin also leads the team in plus/minus (plus-29), has won 66 percent of her face-offs, is terrific killing penalties and is one of the best defensive forwards in the Hockey East. She’s blocked more than 30 shots this season.
 
Though the Terriers hit a bump recently, losing two straight games, Poulin believes BU has a chance to win in the postseason. She says she and her teammates just need to play tighter defense and “play smart.”
 
Last season, Boston University won the Hockey East title, then dropped an 8-7 decision in three overtimes to Cornell in the NCAA Tournament opener. In Poulin’s freshman season, the Terriers made the Frozen Four, beat Cornell in the national semifinals and then lost to Wisconsin, 4-1.
 
Getting to the Frozen Four was a “pretty awesome” experience Poulin would like to repeat.
 
“Last year was close and it didn’t happen, but this year we’re working hard,” she said.
 
Getting to the Frozen Four was something many Terriers fans probably thought was almost a given when they learned Poulin had committed to play for BU.
 
A story in the university’s newspaper about her signing heralded her as “the Sidney Crosby of women’s hockey,” a tag that followed her for several years in Canada.
 
The Quebec native had joined the Canadian national team at age 15. At 18, she was one of the team’s stars, scoring both goals in Canada’s 2-0 victory over the U.S. in the gold medal game of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games. The same year, she scored a hat trick for Canada in a victory over Finland in the Four Nations Cup.
 
Three years after that Team Canada victory in Vancouver, Poulin can still vividly recall the thrill of winning the gold medal in front of friends and families in a Canadian city.
 
“I think it was the best experience I ever had,” she said. “I couldn’t ask for more.”
 
Poulin’s blend of speed and her on-ice savvy made her a national star in Canada, and she had her pick of schools. But she loved BU, for its coaches, its young program — it didn’t begin play until the 2005-06 season — and the city.
 
It’s a decision that was right for her, she says.
 
“The coaches are great people with values, and we learn so much from them on and off the ice,” she said. “I think it’s a big family here.”
 
As a freshman, she fulfilled high expectations. Despite missing several games with a fractured wrist, she set a school record for points in a season (47), since broken by teammate Jenn Wakefield. As a sophomore in just 16 games she had 25 points.
 
This season, finally back in a groove, she’s making a big impact and making those around her better.
 
“Probably since she was 14 or 15, everybody recognized that she was a wonderful skater who had strength and power,” BU coach Brian Durocher told a reporter earlier this season. “But she also had a quality, probably her best quality is the fact that she sees the game at its highest level.”
 
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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