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Back in School, Coyne Shares Lessons from Olympics

By Doug Williams - Special to, 11/11/14, 7:00PM MST


Coyne took a season off from Northeastern to train with Team USA

For Kendall Coyne, playing for the U.S. Olympic hockey team this past February in Sochi, Russia, was the experience of a lifetime.

Coyne took a year off from playing for Northeastern University in 2013-14 to help Team USA win a silver medal, and the 5-foot-2 forward tied for the team lead in points at Sochi with two goals and four assists.

Now back for her junior season in Boston, Coyne says the Olympic hockey education she received was invaluable, particularly in terms of leadership.

This season, for instance, the Northeastern roster includes nine freshmen, so Coyne’s role on the team is not just to score and make plays but also to help show the way for younger players.

“It’s definitely more of a leadership role,” she said. “I think that’s the best part about coming off last year. When you can look at [Olympic team] leaders like Meghan Duggan and Julie Chu and Jessie Vetter, I get to use what I learned from them.”

Being a leader doesn’t necessarily mean being a vocal, rah-rah type.

“They all lead by example,” Coyne said. “They’re just amazing, natural-born leaders, and I think that’s something that I took away. A lot of it comes natural, and just being a good example on and off the ice. Just making good decisions that are going to affect your team positively and not negatively every day is very important.”

With a young group, Northeastern got off to a rough start this season.  The team won just one of its first five games and has a 2-5-3 record.

Coyne, who leads the team in points with 11 — scoring five goals with six assists in eight games — is certain things will turn around.

“I think once we get everyone on board, and those [new] players get comfortable with Hockey East and the college atmosphere, I think things will start going our way,” she said.

Coyne’s presence certainly should be a help this season. She’s one of the fastest skaters in college hockey, which allows her to get into position to make plays on both the offensive and defensive ends. Plus, she has a wealth of experience from her first two seasons at Northeastern and on U.S. national teams.

In her sophomore season at Northeastern, she was a top-10 finalist for the Patty Kazmaier Award (given to the nation’s top player) after compiling 68 points (37 goals, 31 assists) in just 34 games.

Aside from playing in the Winter Games earlier this year, Coyne has been a member of two U.S. world championship teams (2011 and 2013) and four Four Nations Cup teams before this season. In 2012, she scored the game-winning goal in a victory over Canada that clinched the Four Nations Cup championship.

The experience playing internationally and with the best U.S. players has been invaluable, Coyne said. Particularly enlightening for Coyne was playing on the same line with former University of Wisconsin star and Patty Kazmaier Award winner Brianna Decker on Team USA.

“She’s arguably one of the best players in the world, and just having the opportunity to play with her, she makes players around her better,” Coyne said. “I think having that opportunity is pretty special.”

Coyne has been enjoying a mini-Olympic reunion this past week at the Four Nations Cup in Kamloops, B.C. Coyne was selected for the U.S. team, along with 11 other veterans of the Olympic team. Coyne had an assist in the championship game but Team USA fell 3-2 to Canada.

To play in the tournament, Coyne had to leave her college team for a week and a half and fill her breaks in Kamloops with schoolwork. But the Palos Heights, Ill., native said she was grateful for the opportunity.

“It’s been awesome,” she said. “After living and being with them [her Olympic teammates] … just being back with everybody, it’s very special.”

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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USA Hockey: What is the biggest change made to the registration requirements for this season?

Matt Leaf: With more and more seminars transitioning to a virtual format, the Referees-in-Chief (RIC) have determined that there really is no need for the closed book exams. So, level 2, 3 and 4 officials this season will no longer be required to submit a closed book (or modified online closed book exam) upon completion of the seminar requirement. Instead, the open book exams have been expanded to 75 questions for level 2 and 100 questions each for level 3 and level 4.

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USAH: Are there any other changes to the exam process

ML: The only other change to the exams deal with those who do not pass the original exam. Level 2, 3 and 4 officials will now be able to complete their retake exam 24 hours after failing their original exam. Level 1 officials will still need to wait seven days as we want them to slow down and take some time reviewing the rules so they can gain a better understanding and improve their chances for success on the ice.

USAH: What changes, if any, have been made to the seminars? Are all officials still required to attend a seminar each season?

ML: Yes, except for Tenured Officials, all officials are required to attend a seminar for the level that they apply for each season. So, a Level 1 official must attend a Level 1 seminar, Level 2 attends a Level 2 and then Level 3 and 4 seminars will be combined as one seminar in many cases.

Level 1 officials are strongly encouraged to attend a seminar in their own area and most areas will mainly conduct in-person Level 1 seminars. Although there will be some hybrid Level 1 seminars with both a virtual and in-person component, the key here is that every Level 1 official is required to attend a Level 1 seminar ice session. This may require some additional coordination of scheduling for these new officials, but the reality is this on-ice practice is so critical to any future success they may have on the ice that the RICs feel it is critical that the ice session is part of their educational experience.

Level 2 seminars will also include an on-ice component that Level 2 officials need to be aware of when they plan their seminar attendance. The vast majority of Level 3 and Level 4 seminars will be virtual and officials are encouraged to attend a seminar at a date and time that is convenient for them.

USAH: Have there been any changes to the curriculum for the various levels?

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USAH: How about SafeSport and Screening – any changes to those requirements?

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Experienced officials should expect to receive information later this summer that outlines expectations of a formal Mentor Program and asking them to volunteer their time and expertise to become involved as a mentor. Once we have established a pool of officials that are willing to contribute in this way to the next generation of officials, they will be assigned a group of new officials they can reach out to and guide them through the registration process, seminar attendance, assistance in completing the open book exam and reaching out to prospective assignors when the time has come they are ready to work games. Once they have stepped on the ice, that mentor can continue to be a valuable resource for the new official and provide the necessary support needed to be successful. We will also be encouraging local clubs, assignors and officials’ groups to implement Shadow Programs that will complement the Mentor Program and positively enhance the officials’ experience even more.

With everyone working together towards a common goal, USA Hockey can become a leader in addressing the officiating crisis while providing a positive experience to our next generation of officials.

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