It shows on her face.
Northeastern’s Kendall Coyne has the enthusiasm of a 7-year-old on Christmas morning when it comes to doing what she loves more than anything else: playing hockey.
The first time the senior forward actually put blade-to-ice was at 3 years old in her hometown of Palos Heights, Ill.
“I started on figure skates but that only lasted a week,” Coyne said. “My parents thought that’s what girls did but I wanted to be like my brother and wear black skates.”
And play hockey.
Saturday mornings in the winter were Coyne’s Christmas morning.
“I was the kid up at 5 a.m. Saturday mornings with my gear (already) on waking my parents up, shaking them and saying ‘Let’s go, we have hockey.’”
This past weekend Coyne had every reason to be just as enthusiastic to get on the ice. The NU coaching staff, director of hockey operations and equipment managers didn’t get a 5 a.m. wake-up call from Coyne. They got to witness history though thanks to No. 77.
Coyne broke the Northeastern women’s hockey career points record of 208 when she scored her second goal against New Hampshire Sunday in a 5-2 NU victory.
“It’s a tremendous honor and a testament to my teammates over the last four years,” she said.
A low wrist shot from the top of the left circle inside the right post will be Coyne’s most celebrated collegiate goal. Yet it is just a microcosm of a specular and unprecedented career in Boston.
It was Coyne’s sophomore year when her ability was first displayed. She had a six-point game – 1 goal and 5 assists – against Connecticut. Also that year she had a goal streak of seven games and a point streak of 16 games. Ten times in her career Coyne’s registered a hat-trick and has a whopping 55 multi-point games.
Coyne’s ability to set-up teammates and find the back of the net isn’t just good enough for college hockey; it’s good enough for Team USA Olympic hockey. In her first-ever Olympic appearance, Coyne wasn’t the token college player that rode the bench during the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi either. Her six points – two goals and four assists – was tied for the Team USA lead in scoring.
Those early morning Saturday youth games ignited a passion in her. When Coyne’s beloved Blackhawks were a doormat in the NHL’s Central Division and it wasn’t ‘cool’ for girls to play hockey, she heard stereotypical cat calls. The cat calls didn’t stop her from playing though. Coyne went as far as playing in an all-boys league when she was 12 years old. But one boy gave her a rather rude introduction to the league.
“The first open ice hit I took (in the pee wee boys league) was actually from a boy whose family was friends with our family,” said Coyne. “My parents and I talk about it all the time. It was a clear hit. You just have to get up and keep playing.”
“I was getting hit so much in the forecheck and rushing the puck while playing (forward) in the boys’ league, I switched to defense. The switch actually helped develop my game.”
The irony of Coyne breaking the NU career points record Sunday was that the previous record holder was there, coaching on the opposing bench. New Hampshire head coach Hilary Witt, a 2000 Northeastern graduate, set the record her senior year.
“She came up to me after the game and congratulated me in person after the game,” Coyne said. “To surpass someone like Coach Witt, the coach my freshman year here as well as on the Olympic team is special. She was a tremendous player and coach.”
Coyne hopes to get a job in the NHL after graduation along with continuing to play hockey.
“I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason,” said Coyne.
Above: Kendall Coyne set the Northeastern career points record against a team coached by the previous record holder, Hilary Witt. (Courtesy Jim Pierce/Northeastern Athletics)