Ice hockey: Canada's 'Captain Clutch' makes the extraordinary look routine

Canada's Marie-Philip Poulin celebrates with a gold medal, on Feb 17, 2022. PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING (REUTERS) - Canadian captain Marie-Philip Poulin made the remarkable seem almost routine on Thursday (Feb 17), clinching the Olympic gold medal-winning goal yet again in a career that shows no sign of slowing down.

Canada's calm "Captain Clutch" developed a reputation as a quiet leader in Beijing but was anything but on Thursday, putting up 11 assists and two goals to devastate arch-rivals the United States 3-2.

It was the third time that Canada won the gold off a Poulin shot, a staggering achievement that dumbfounded even her own teammates.

"She found a way to get another game winner in a gold-medal match - I'm not sure how she does that," said netminder Ann-Renee Desbiens, who made a remarkable 38 saves on Thursday to help Canada to its fifth gold.

"She is obviously our leader and one of the big reasons we won. The way she carries herself on and off the ice is truly something special.

"I don't know a more deserving captain to win the gold medal for us."

She scored both goals in her team's shutout win over the US in the 2010 Olympic final when she was just 18 years old and clinched it in overtime in Sochi, cementing herself as one of the most beloved stars in hockey-mad Canada.

"She is just such a competitor. She is someone that thrives in these gold-medal situations. She thrives on these opportunities," said Rebecca Johnston, her teammate through three Olympics, including their devastating silver medal turn in Pyeongchang, where the US ended their run of four straight golds.

The 30-year-old said she's not done yet, after leading the Canadian demolition in Beijing, telling reporters she would consider vying for a spot on a fifth Olympic roster in 2026.

"I love training. I love doing extra reps so much. I love doing that extra mile when nobody is watching. It pays off," said Poulin.

"Sometimes it's hard, sometimes you ask yourself why are you doing it, but when you look down and see that gold medal, you realise why."

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