Marie-Philip Poulin’s overtime winner, the goal that gave Canada the gold medal over the United States at the women’s world championship Tuesday, was one of the most perfect shots in Canadian hockey history.
“That’s one of the seminal goals,” said Steve McKichan, the former Leafs goalie coach who now runs the Future Pro Goalie School. “If Canada would have lost, we’d all be saying, ‘What’s wrong with Canadian hockey’ again but now, it’s like hockey’s back — and it all came down to that shot.
“That’s the Hall of Fame, bar-down shot in women’s hockey … If we’re talking greatest goals in hockey history, that’s top five right there.”
The shot itself represented probably thousands of hours where Poulin practised sniping the puck into the top corner of a net. It ended a terrific Canadian breakout, with Breanne Jenner corralling a wraparound clearing pass and feeding Poulin cross-ice at the U.S. blue line. Poulin rocked from her right skate to her left, then snapped home the winner, beating American goalie Nicole Hensley high to the right corner of the net.
The puck struck the crossbar and post before dropping over the goal-line. Hensley appeared to have the angle covered but the shot was so hard and so precise — and so Mario-like. Mario Lemieux also went to the top right corner with a snap shot to win the 1987 Canada Cup.
Poulin has made it a habit to score big goals. She the gold-medal-winning goals at both the 2010 Vancouver Olympics and the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
The final shot Tuesday was so good in terms of its placement and pure velocity that it wasn’t even called a goal right away, though Poulin knew it was in.
“That helped, when the buzzer happened,” Poulin said of the buzzer that went off after a quick review, sending the Canadian team pouring onto the ice.
“I kinda knew it went in, I saw it. It felt good when that buzzer happened. Obviously, there’s a little moment when you question yourself, if you saw the right thing but, when everybody jumped on the ice, being able to celebrate as a group, there’s no better feeling.”
McKichan saw the goal and couldn’t stop talking about it. He said the precision of the shot was phenomenal.
“When a high-end player like Marie-Philip Poulin goes to put a shot in that area, a goalie isn’t necessarily looking for it there, partly because it wouldn’t take a lot of movement to catch it,” McKichan said.
“So when she put that shot where she did, from a goalie’s perspective, it was an incredible rocket. The goalie’s angle on that shot was pretty good. When she placed it in that area, with that much velocity and accuracy, no goalie is going to stop it. She would have scored on Jack Campbell with that shot.”
McKichan added Poulin, having practised that shot over and over, probably wasn’t thinking about what to do, even in a high-pressure moment in overtime. And Poulin, in a February 2018 YouTube video, said essentially the same thing, suggesting it was instinct.
“I think for me it comes natural, depends on how I feel, depends what I see, and maybe it’s going to go in, and maybe the goalie’s going to stop it,” she said in the video. “Just go with your own instinct. That’s something that sometimes we forget about hockey, it’s so technical. But at the end of the day, if you have your own instinct, if you feel the way the way it feels, it’s something that’s gonna come natural.”
JOIN THE CONVERSATION