As the United States works towards assembling a world championship team, Kendall Coyne just may be part of the solution. In the history of the IIHF Women’s Worlds, Canada has never lost on its home soil. With the 2013 edition being hosted in the Canadian capital of Ottawa, the United States are hoping to play the spoiler for the first time.
The 2012-13 NCAA season has been a coming-out party for the sensational sophomore hailing from Illinois. Two natural hat tricks comprise some of her season highlights. The first came on October 12 against the Union Dutchwomen, in which she logged three consecutive goals in the third period. The other was highlighted by a road win over the Vermont Catamounts on January 27. On the strength of her natural hat trick, the Huskies overcame a three-goal deficit for the win.
A catalyst on offense, Coyne sits among the top 10 in NCAA scoring. Coyne added to her growing legend among Northeastern fans with a superlative performance on November 3. The contest versus the Connecticut Huskies resulted in a six-point output, a career high.
Having logged at least 50 points in the 2012-13 campaign, Coyne is helping to rewrite the Huskies record books. She has become the first Huskies player since Brooke Whitney (a former Patty Kazmaier Award winner) to register a 50-point campaign.
Coyne also matched the legendary Whitney in another accomplishment. With back-to-back seasons of at least 25 goals scored (she scored her 25th of this season against Vermont in January), Coyne is the first Husky since Whitney to do so. Heading into the final series of the regular season, she has logged 60 career goals (in 60 career games).
Having reached the milestone in only two seasons is a true testament to her talent. Coyne has also become the first Huskies player since Hilary Witt to have logged at least 45 points in consecutive seasons.
While NCAA players like Hannah Brandt and Amanda Kessel are capturing the imaginations of fans and players alike, Coyne is also emerging as a once-in-a-generation talent. As a member of the 2011 and 2012 US National Teams, she is emerging as a valuable asset.
Coyne’s poise in international play was evident during an exhibition game on November 24, 2012. With Northeastern playing the Russian national women’s team, the Huskies faced a 3-0 deficit. Coyne assisted on the last two goals of the game (including the game-winning tally by Rachel Llanes) as the club came back to prevail by a 6-4 mark.
Having eclipsed the 100-point barrier on February 17 (in a 7-2 win over Maine), she became the 22nd Huskies player to reach the celebrated century mark in a career. Perhaps more remarkable, she accomplished the feat in less than two seasons. She is only the third to have accomplished the feat (the others being Vicky Sunohara and Hillary Witt).
A hat trick against the Boston University Terriers was the catalyst towards Northeastern reaching their second consecutive Beanpot championship game. Coyne’s hat trick was essential as it snapped the Terriers' 13-game unbeaten streak, which was the second longest in the NCAA. While Coyne did not score a goal in the Beanpot title game, her presence was crucial as the Huskies claimed their second straight Beanpot.
Having earned the Hockey East Player of the Week Award five times, she has clearly established herself as a contender for the Hockey East Player of the Year Award. With nine power-play goals and six game-winning goals, Coyne is the engine by which the Huskies run. She has logged at least one point in 46 out of 56 career games.
After the graduation of Florence Schelling, it would have been easy to write off the Huskies for the next few seasons. Coyne’s impact has helped the team remain competitive while emerging as a contender for a spot in the NCAA Tournament.
With the US also looking for their first Winter Games gold medal in women’s hockey since 1998, deciding which players to invite to their centralization camp may not be an easy one. The 2013 IIHF Women’s Worlds will definitely serve as an audition.
Players like Brandt, Kessel, Coyne and Alex Carpenter signify that the new generation of American hockey stars has arrived. As the rivalry between Canada and the United States will only heat up with the Sochi Winter Games quickly approaching, the speed and scoring ability of youngsters like Coyne may be the final part of the puzzle.