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When the Olympic athletes march into Fisht Olympic Stadium in Sochi, Russia, tonight for the opening ceremonies of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games, BU will be well represented. Among the 2,800 Olympians competing through February 23 will be four Terrier alums and one current BU student.
Canadian women’s hockey team members Marie-Phillip Poulin (SED’15) and Catherine Ward (GSM’12), who won gold for Canada at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, will be vying for a medal once again. They have been joined on this year’s Canadian women’s team by first-time Olympians and former Terrier women’s ice hockey teammates Jenn Wakefield (CAS’12) and Tara Watchorn (CAS’12). Kevin Shattenkirk (CAS’11), a member of the 2009 NCAA national champion men’s ice hockey team, will make his Olympic debut as a member of the US men’s hockey team.
“It’s pretty special to play with Jenn, Catherine, and Tara once again,” says Poulin. “Sometimes we laugh about our time at school, and we’re all really happy to wear red and white once again.” (Team Canada shares the same colors as Boston University.)
Ward says that playing for a premier Division I hockey program like BU’s was invaluable training for Olympic competition.
“I really developed as a leader while playing for the Terriers,” says Ward. “I played against some of the best Canadian and American hockey players there are and will face many of those same players at the Games. The caliber of play at the NCAA level is definitely comparable, and it’s a great place to prepare any athlete who dreams of playing at the international level.”
Watchorn credits Poulin and Ward with teaching her what it takes to compete on an international stage. “I was lucky enough to play with them at BU,” Watchorn says. “They are such talented players and make everyone around them better, and they definitely helped me understand what it takes to play at the Olympic level.”
Win or lose at Sochi, Poulin says, she’s looking forward to returning to BU and the women’s hockey team next fall. After taking this year off to prepare for the Sochi Games, the hockey forward has one year of eligibility left. “I’ve had three great years there,” she says, “and there’s still one more to come…every time I put the Team Canada jersey on, my BU team is in the back of my mind, because those players have helped me reach my goals.”
Poulin set a program record for assists (36) and tallied a career-high 55 points during the 2012–2013 season and led the Terriers to the NCAA title game. She was named Hockey East tournament MVP and honored as a member of the Frozen Four All-Tournament Team after scoring and assisting on goals in each of the NCAA tournament tilts.
After three outstanding seasons as a member of the BU men’s ice hockey team, Kevin Shattenkirk elected to forego his senior year and begin a career in the NHL. The 25-year-old defensemen recently signed a four-year contract extension with the St. Louis Blues, and although at 5’11” he is often overlooked, Shattenkirk was officially named to the US Olympic Team in early January. As a BU sophomore, he was a key component of the Terriers’ 2009 NCAA title run, and assisted on the game-winning goal as BU defeated Ohio’s Miami University in the championship game.
“I had great coaches at BU who made sure that we developed as young players,” he says. “They gave me a ton of tools that made it possible for me to succeed at the NHL level.”
Shattenkirk is one of a long list of Terrier men’s ice hockey Olympic alums. Others include Mike Eruzione (SED’77), captain of the famous 1980 US “Miracle on Ice” squad, a team that also included Jim Craig (SED’79), Jack O’Callahan (CAS’79), and Dave Silk (CAS’80, MET’92, GSM’93), and Hoby Baker winner Chris Drury (CAS’98), who was a member of the 2006 US Olympic team.
“I am extremely honored to represent my country at the Olympics,” Shattenkirk says. “This is the ultimate stage. I know I will be representing BU just as Jack O’Callahan and Mike Eruzione did when they won gold.”
It is a sentiment shared by this year’s other BU Olympians.
“Just like anything you work for in life, there is a path and a process you need to take to get there,” says Watchorn. “Boston University was an amazing part of that process for me, and I hope to make everyone at BU proud this February.”
The Canadian women’s hockey team will take on Switzerland on Saturday, February 8, at 8 a.m. EST in Canada’s first match of the preliminary stage. The US men’s hockey team will play its first match against Slovakia on Thursday, February 13, at 7:30 a.m. EST. Find more information about where to view these teams’ games here.