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Hockey star shoots for gold in Sochi

Kendall Coyne

“2013 was the best year of my life,” says Kendall Coyne, a star for­ward for North­eastern hockey. In June, she was selected to the U.S. National team; in December, she was named to the Olympic roster, becoming one of only 21 women to make the final cut.

2014 could be even sweeter if Coyne were to help U.S. hockey win its first Olympic gold since 1998. The year cer­tainly got off to a sto­ry­book start: The day was Jan. 1, the venue was Michigan Sta­dium, and the tem­per­a­ture was in the single digits. In the second inter­mis­sion of the NHL’s annual Winter Classic at “The Big House,” USA Hockey unveiled its Olympic roster to an audi­ence of some 105,491 screaming fans.

“It was freezing,” recalls Coyne, who kept warm in a white hat embroi­dered with the U.S. flag, “but it was a spe­cial moment because my life­long dream had come true.”

Coyne’s Olympic aspi­ra­tions began to take shape at age 3, when she shed her figure skates for hockey skates to be like her older brother. She played with the boys until she was 15 and prac­ticed with them until she donned Northeastern’s sweater in 2011.

In her first two sea­sons with the red and black, Coyne amassed 63 goals and 50 assists, becoming the first Husky in more than a decade to record at least 45 points in con­sec­u­tive campaigns.

But Olympic hockey is not col­lege hockey—the com­pe­ti­tion is steeper, the ice sheet is bigger, and the stakes are far greater. Nev­er­the­less, says the ever-​​confident Coyne, “I’ll use my speed and skill to make smart plays and win battles.”

Team USA’s first test in Sochi is Feb. 8 against Fin­land, which upset the red, white, and blue in November in the Four Nations Cup at Lake Placid, N.Y. On Feb. 12, the U.S. will face off against Canada for the first time since a line brawl broke out at the end of a 4–1 U.S. win in an exhi­bi­tion game on Dec. 20 in North Dakota.

“I’m not a pro­po­nent of fighting in hockey, but I am a pro­po­nent of standing up for your­self,” U.S. coach Katey Stone told reporters after the game. “We will not be pushed around.”

Coyne con­curs, saying, “Most people who watch us play know we won’t take any oppo­nent lightly.”

Believe her. The Husky from Palos Heights, Ill., has spent almost every waking moment over the last eight months playing hockey, thinking about hockey. Her break­fast is a lesson is bio­chem­istry (eggs for pro­tein, bagels for carbs), her gym reg­imen a master class in building strength (clean and press, weighted pull-​​ups).

“My goal is to be the best team­mate I can be,” says Coyne, a fierce yet under­sized 5-​​foot-​​2-​​inch com­petitor. “All the work we have done over the last three and a half years has been with gold in the back of our minds.”

Kendall is a Communication Studies major in the College of Arts, Media and Design.

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