About a year ago to the day, the No. 7 Boston University women’s hockey team split a home-and-home series with Providence College. The weekend series featured two fiercely competitive contests, one in which the Terriers could not overcome an early deficit and another where the Terriers’ late-period rally gave them a win.
This past weekend, the Terriers took the series from Providence, completing a regular-season sweep of the Hockey East rival.
Over the course of that year, players have graduated and teams have gone through frustrating slumps and had surprising comebacks. Yet one of the most notable changes from when the puck dropped in 2011 to this time around is the return of junior co-captain Marie-Philip Poulin to the Terriers’ lineup.
At this point last season, Poulin was a few months removed from rupturing her spleen and working toward making it back into the lineup by the time the second semester began. Now the Beauceville, Quebec, native is back in her role of leading the team both on the ice, as the leading point scorer, and off the ice as the team’s co-captain.
“It feels good,” Poulin said after Saturday’s game against the Friars. “Just to not be injured is always a good feeling. When we have the chance to play here at Walter Brown, it’s such a privilege and just to be here is fun.”
In the 13 games that she has played this season, Poulin has tallied 26 points, the most on the team and the second most in the Hockey East Conference. Nonetheless, this past weekend’s series against the Friars was one of Poulin’s best so far this season, as she tallied a total of five points — three goals and two assists — in two games.
“It’d be hard pressed to say that as an all-around player, she’s not the best player in the league or one of, if not the best, player in college hockey,” said BU coach Brian Durocher.
“She plays all three zones. She’s tremendous on face offs. She blocks shots to the point where she’s been injured two of her three years from blocking shots. She’s a great playmaker and could probably up her goal-scoring total at any time if she decided to become a little selfish, but that’s not in her repertoire.
“She’s a consummate team player who will make the right pass [and] make the right play.”
Poulin’s performance during Saturday’s 6–4 win over the Friars kept her team in the game as she had a hand in BU’s first four goals. Poulin’s ability to not just score but also help her teammates kept BU a step ahead of the Friars, as Providence consistently fought back, tying the game within minutes of every BU lead.
But Poulin did not just assist on these goals.
She recorded her third career hat trick, scoring two goals in the first period of the game and notching her third almost halfway through the third period, with each goal giving BU an — albeit temporary — lead.
“We always want to win at the end of the day,” Poulin said. “It was a really great team effort. [Friday] was a shaky win, but today we came back, and I think we showed resilience. We’re really happy with what happened.”
Poulin, who was named the Hockey East Player of the Week for her efforts, also notched an assist during the game, as she helped senior forward Jenelle Kohanchuk tally her ninth goal of the season.
Like Poulin, Kohanchuk missed most of the 2011–12 season due to injury. Kohanchuk, who suffered a concussion at the beginning of the 2011–12 season, has also made her return to the team known. Along with Poulin and freshman forward Sarah Lefort, she is tied for the team lead in goals scored.
Durocher said having Poulin and Kohanchuk back on the ice and healthy has improved the team and helped them to succeed.
“It was a long year without those two kids around,” Durocher said of Kohanchuk and Poulin. “We have other great players, and the team persevered, but when you have two people that are high-end kids who at any time can change the complexion of the game … they’re game changers, and we’re happy we have them.”