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The Olympic Games : Kevin Poulin

In February 2018, Kevin Poulin was among the nearly 3,000 athletes from around the world who migrated to Pyeongchang to compete in the XXIII Olympic Winter Games. Without the NHL hockey players, the Canadian team was made up of a variety of players, very few of whom would have hoped to ever participate in the event. The experience ended with a bronze medal win over the Czechs. Poulin spoke about his experience with a smile on his face throughout.

Q : Can you tell us about your experience in general?

KP : In general, I would say it was very busy. I didn’t expect to go to the Olympics. Normally it was the NHL players, the “All-Stars” of the country like Crosby, McKinnon, Price, Fleury, etc., but that year there was a lot of talk that the NHL players weren’t going to be there.  So we started doing tournaments for the selection camp. Little by little, I saw that I had a chance. It was very exciting to be part of that process and to be chosen. 

Q : How was the selection process for you?

KP : It started in the summer. There were a few tournaments. I remember I did a tournament in Sochi with Hockey Canada and in St. Petersburg. Those were the first two. After that, they did the Channel One Cup, where I didn’t go. After that, I was invited to the Spengler Cup which was the last tournament before the Olympics. We won it and it was a good end to the “selection camp”, then Hockey Canada made the announcement a few weeks later.

Q : How do you compare your experiences at the Spengler Cup and the Olympics?

KP : Without taking anything away from the Spengler Cup, it doesn’t compare to the Olympics. The Olympics it’s the whole world. At the Spengler Cup, it was only a few teams. There was Hockey Canada, the Swiss team, and the rest were already formed teams from different leagues. It was fun, we won, but it’s not the same as the Olympics.

Q : What kind of feelings did you have when you got the confirmation of your selection  ?

KP : I was really, really happy. Excited! I was confident to make the team with the performances I had, but to be confirmed and to be part of the team, this experience was really a dream. A dream that I didn’t even know I had that had just come true.

GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA – FEBRUARY 21: Kevin Poulin #31 of Canada celebrates a goal in the third period against Finland during the Men’s Play-offs Quarterfinals on day twelve of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Gangneung Hockey Centre on February 21, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Q : At what point did you realize that this was for real, that you were at the Olympics  ?

KP : I think the first time I really realized it was when we arrived in the Olympic Village. We entered and there we saw the flags of all the countries, the athletes of everywhere in the world and the Olympic rings. All this made me realize that we were there.

Q : What did the team do to create a chemistry for the Games  ?

KP : Before the Olympics, we played two games in Riga with the whole team. It was like an Olympic pre-camp. We already knew each other a little bit with the tournaments we had played for the selection. But it’s certain that the whole team did some activities together and for the team, it was in Riga that our Olympics started.

Q : How was your relationship with the other goalies  ?

KP : It went great. I was with Ben Scrivens and Justin Peters. Peters was my roommate so we were pretty close. Ben, with the background he had, it was easy to get along. The three of us got along great together.

GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA – FEBRUARY 24: (L-R) Bronze medal winners Justin Peters #35, Ben Scrivens #30 and Kevin Poulin #31 of Canada celebrates after defeating Czech Republic 6-4 during the Men’s Bronze Medal Game on day fifteen of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Gangneung Hockey Centre on February 24, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Q : How does your preparation for an Olympics game changes  ?

KP : It’s pretty much the same thing. The only thing is that the games were later in the evening, for TV. The afternoons were longer. In my memory, the games were at 9:15PM instead of our usual 7:00PM and 7:30PM. The day is longer, more time to relax and prepare.

Q : How do you adjust to opponents you know less about  ?

KP : Lots of videos! We watched a lot of games that the opponents had played before. Sometimes, there were players we knew more who had already played in the National League or in the American Hockey League. I had played in the KHL, so we knew many players. I remember we would go name by name and those who knew the person would say their strengths and weaknesses. With all the players in Canada, we were able to go around the other teams one by one.

Q : Do you have a highlight that marked your experience  ?

KP : The game when we won the bronze medal. It was really the highlight for the team and for me personally. My family was there, my parents, my two boys. I was very happy that they could experience this at the same time as me.

Q : Among the great memories of your career, where does your experience at the Olympic Games rank?  ?

KP : Like I said earlier, it was a dream I didn’t know I had. It was unattainable for me at the beginning of my career. It was really in the best moments of my career. Playing in the National League, my first NHL win, playing in the NHL playoffs, then winning the bronze medal at the Olympics representing Canada. It’s an honor. That’s among the great moments. That’s pretty much in the top 2 I would say.

GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA – FEBRUARY 23: Kevin Poulin #31 of Canada prepares for their game against Germany during the Men’s Play-offs Semifinals on day fourteen of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Gangneung Hockey Centre on February 23, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Q : What would be your message to the players who will start their adventure in the next few hours  ?

KP : Take the time to savor. To enjoy the time there, because it goes by really fast. Also hockey is from start to finish, so take the time to realize where you are and be proud.