Olympic women feel the love

DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:13 AM ET

Marie-Philip Poulin watched the 2002 and 2006 Winter Olympics as a budding hockey star.

But even in her wildest dreams, she never envisioned her first Olympic experience to be so memorable.

"It was even better than I thought it would be, because it was in our country and the whole country was cheering for us, it was awesome," Poulin said. "I was watching in 2002 and 2006 and then to get a chance to play with some of the players that I was watching was unbelievable and I'm really thankful for that.

"At the time, I didn't think that I would get a chance to play in an Olympics, but then, after I was invited to my first senior camp, that's when I realized that I had a chance if I worked hard and I kept going.

"Then I got invited to the main camp and made the team."

Poulin cemented her place in Canadian hockey history, scoring both goals for the women's team in a 2-0 victory over the United States in the gold medal game.

On Monday, the 19-year-old phenom was reunited with her Olympic teammates.

"This is awesome," Poulin said. "We just got our championship rings. They're pretty heavy actually. But it's good to be here and get to see the men's team again and the under-18 team."

It's been a whirlwind few months for the native of Beauceville, Que. A relative unknown prior to the Games, Poulin became a national hero with her two goals in the final.

"It's hard to believe sometimes," she said. "We worked as a team all year long and we were ready for that game. I just went back to my hometown and it was special, people congratulated me and recognized me. It's awesome to be able to give something back to the community and they helped me get to the Olympics."

As the youngest member of the team, Poulin not only helped Canada win its third consecutive Olympic gold medal, but also represents the future of women's hockey in the country. She'll be counted on to repeat her accomplishments in four years at the next Winter Olympic games in Russia.

I got a lot of help from the other members of the team, I can't deny that, because without them I wouldn't have been able to be there," Poulin said. "I just have to keep going and work as hard as I did last year, because it won't get any easier from now on so you have to work harder every time. "

Poulin has already begun her off-ice training for next season. Following her Olympic heroics, she became a highly sought commodity among U.S. NCAA schools. She settled on Boston College, where she'll be a freshman next season.

"I'm really looking forward to that," she said. "It's going to be fun getting back to school and getting a chance to do my own thing."

The women's team was among three squads honoured on Monday.

"It was a nice way to do this," said women's team captain Hayley Wickenheiser. "We did it four years ago as well and bringing all three teams together and celebrating with the greater Hockey Canada family and all of Canada and being in Edmonton here, it's a fun day at Commonwealth Stadium when people can come out and see both teams. Then at the gala a lot of memories will be shared."


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