Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Sochi medal stand had distinct Boston flair

What do Marie-Philip Poulin (Canada), Alex Carpenter, Kellie Stack (United States) and Florence Schelling (Switzerland) have in common?

Two things: they all were part of countries which medaled in the women's hockey competition at Sochi, and they all suited up for -- or in Carpenter's case currently plays for -- programs in Hockey East.

Poulin has gained an international reputation for clutch scoring by netting the tying and winning goals in last Thursday's Gold-medal-winning effort against the USA, after scoring twice more in her nation's winning effort on home soil four years ago in Vancouver against the Americans. She is a proud Boston University Terrier.

Stack has graduated from the Heights, while Carpenter -- daughter of "Can't Miss Kid" Bobby Carpenter -- will return to Chestnut Hill to finish her sophomore season for the Beanpot and Hockey East regular-season champion BC Eagles. 

Schelling is two years removed from a distinguished four-year goaltending career with the Northeastern Huskies. The Swiss native, who just completed a stellar Olympics by being named tournament MVP as well as the top goaltender at Sochi, filled the crease for 98 games at the school anchored on Huntington Avenue from 2008-12.

A relative giant in the net at 5-foot-8, Schelling started out very slowly, going only 5-12-1 in her freshman season despite allowing only 42 goals in 19 games for a 2.24 GAA, and .933 save percentage. That was enough to earn her a slot on the Hockey East All-Rookie team, which seemed to be de rigueur after garnering a nod as the conference's best defensive player in early October and then taking its best rookie mention the very next week.

She shot into the stratosphere over the next three seasons. In 2009-10, Schelling was named a second-team All-American, New England Division I All-Star, served as Hockey East Co-Player of the Year while being selected as the league's best goaltender thanks to an 11-5-4 record, four shutouts and 1.37 GAA. But wait, there's more. Schelling also made the list as an All-Hockey East first-team selection and was tabbed the Hockey East Defensive Player of the Week seven times, while taking home the top goaltender award for October and November.

After going 13-9-6 with a 2.02 GAA and four more whitewashes the next year, the following was in the offing: a shutout string of 176:08 from Nov. 6-Nov. 12, Hockey East Defensive Player of the Week nod in late October along with top goaltender selection in late February and to cap it all off, Hockey East All-Tournament team honors. Schelling's senior season's bona fides were a 20-6-4 record, 1.42 GAA, .950 save pct. and eight shutouts which ranked third in the country -- all of which were good enough to be included in the top three choices for the Patty Kazmaier Award.

Poulin, who took a year away from the college game to play for Team Canada, will return to the comfort of Commonwealth Avenue next season already having topped the program's all-time scoring list.

The Beauceville, Quebec native recorded 55 points (19G, 36A) in only 35 games last year, leading the Terriers to the national final where they were steamrolled by the legendary Minnesota Golden Gophers -- who were in the midst of an unreal 62-game winning streak. In 79 appearances as an undergrad, Poulin has compiled 54 goals and 73 assists. That includes 63 points (26G, 37A) in 40 Hockey East contests over the same span.

What's more, is that the 22-year-old has accrued a laundry list of accolades in that time. In her freshman campaign, she was named Hockey East Rookie of the Year and became the only unanimous selection to the league's All-Rookie Team, while being runner-up for Player of the Year. Poulin also was selected the Hockey East Player of the Month in January and Rookie of the Month in October. Despite an injury-plagued sophomore season, her play was enough to garner Hockey East Player of the Month in March along with a selection to the Hockey East All-Tournament Team.

In 2012-13, Poulin continued on her starry path, leaving it a no-brainer to be named a unanimous Hockey East First Team All-Star as well as a New England Division I All-Star. After leading her squad within one game of a national championship, a berth in the Frozen Four All-Tournament Team and Hockey East All-Tournament Team was in the offing. 

Stack terrorized opposing defensemen and goaltenders for four years on The Heights from 2006-2011, with a year off, like Poulin this year, to play for Team USA at Vancouver in 2010. The 26-year-old native of the Cleveland suburbs still holds the program record with 207 points (96G, 111A) over 140 appearances.

She led the Eagles in scoring for each of her four seasons, including an impressive 54-point freshman season (17G, 37A) in only 36 games, along with a 59-point year in 2008-09 and 56 points that included a career-best 34 goals, over a 35-game senior campaign.

Stack's last in Chestnut Hill brought a raft of accolades. There were a pair of Hockey East Player of the Week nods (November, March), HE Player of the Month for both October and November of 2010, an All-Hockey East first-team selection, a conference tournament choice which also included being named MVP, Hockey East Player of the Year, a slot as a second-team All-American and to top it all off, a place in New England hockey lore as the best women's player in the region for 2010-11.

Carpenter, showing signs of success well beyond her 20 years, has blitzed the enemy to the tune of 110 points in 72 games during her first two collegiate campaigns. The Boston-area native who was raised in North Jersey ripped off a school-record 70 points last season and reached the 100-point plateau faster than any player in Eagles history.

Twice named Hockey East Rookie of the Month for October and December of 2011, she added a Player of the Week nod right before the end of the first semester, then capped the year with an All-Rookie Team selection, First-Team New England All-Star nod.

Boston College reached the Frozen Four in 2013 thanks to her efforts, which weren't quite enough to take down eventual champion Minnesota in the national semifinal.

Carpenter's still on the fence about competing in the 2018 Winter Olympics, since it will take place almost two years from the date of her expected graduation, but at age 24, it's not like the game would have passed her by at that point. Having a legitimate women's professional league in North America in which to compete would fill the gap nicely between Olympiads.

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