Canadian ice hockey team captain Marie-Philip Poulin is the only ice hockey player in the world, male or female, to have scored goals in four consecutive Olympic finals.
The 31-year-old from Beauceville, Que., cemented her reputation as a golden goaler by scoring two goals, including the eventual winner, in the February final in Beijing, where Canada beat the United States 3-2.
Poulin leads defending champions Canada into the Women’s World Cup, which begins Thursday in Herning and Frederikshavn, Denmark. Canada opens in Herning against Finland.
Poulin has scored seven goals in their four Olympic finals, including the late equalizer and OT winner in Canada’s 2014 win and both goals in the 2010 2-0 win over the Americans.
She also scored in regulation time in Canada’s 2018 penalty shoot-out loss to the United States.
Their exploits are not limited to the Olympic Games. Their overtime winner against USA in last year’s World Cup final in Calgary gave Canada its first title in almost a decade.
Poulin tops all active Canadian players with 88 goals and 96 assists in 153 career games.
She ranks fifth all-time behind Hayley Wickenheiser, Jayna Hefford, Caroline Ouellette and Danielle Goyette.
Wickenheiser, Hefford and Goyette are members of the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Speaking of teamwork ahead of an audience in Iqaluit, Nunavut, during the Pope’s visit to Canada last month, Pope Francis referred to Poulin and her teammate Sarah Nurse by name.
“I heard that,” said Poulin. “I got a nice little message from my grandma. I think she’s pretty happy about it.”
The Canadian press had a few questions for Poulin ahead of the World Championships in Denmark. The interview has been edited and shortened to save space.
CP: It’s only been six months since the Olympics. This is the third major championship in a year. You’ve had a few knee injuries and some international ice hockey miles in your career. What made you decide to play at this World Cup and not take a break?
MPP: “The team that we have has been so special over the past few years, we’ve kickstarted that culture with Hockey Canada through the women’s program, which is doing very well. I find it difficult to take a break. We were quite successful at the World Championships and the Olympics last year, but we don’t take that for granted. There is so much pride in wearing this Maple Leaf. It’s an honor every time, so it’s fun. It was a short summer. I won’t lie.”
HP: What would it mean to you to lead Canada to a third major title in a year?
MPP: “I haven’t thought that far, but the group we have is really special. There is also a lot of talent and of course it would be an honor. Having the chance to win those two big tournaments last year was a huge confidence boost. It’s in the past for us now and now we’re looking at what’s ahead.”
HP: What does your job with the Montreal Canadiens entail and how do you combine that with your playing career?
MPP: “They were aware when I sat down with them that my priority was still playing. It’s a part-time job with player development. With the rookie camp in July, I was able to go there for three days, just get involved and see how things are going there. For me as a player it was very interesting. I think the coaching side sees the game a little differently. I tried to see what they learned and apply it to my game for me as a player as well. I look forward to getting a little more involved.”
CP: It has been widely reported that a league is in the works involving the Professional Women’s Hockey Players’ Association (PWHPA), supported by Billie Jean King Enterprises and the Mark Walter Group. How close do you feel to the aspired women’s professional league?
MPP: “It’s going there. I think we have an investor with us. It’s a slower process than we expected. I think we all know that we want a league tomorrow. We have the right people behind us. We trust them. We have had this connection for many years now and we will continue to hope and trust those who work behind these closed doors that they have the right intent for us and it will happen soon.”
CP: How much longer do you want to play for the national team?
MPP: “As long as I can keep up with the youth. You are quite talented. i still like it If I walk out onto the rink without smiling and not enjoying it, I know it will be over, but I’m still enjoying it.”