By James Duffy, sports editor
The number 77 will forever be immortalized in Husky Nation. If Northeastern retired jersey numbers, number 77 would undoubtedly hang from the rafters, but instead, it will have to settle on every page in the school record books.
Kendall Coyne spent four years as a Husky with that number on her back, setting the all-time records for career points and goals and guiding the women’s hockey team to its first-ever NCAA tournament appearance as captain this season.
Now that she has finished her time at Northeastern University (NU), Coyne has cemented her place as the greatest player in school history.
“I hope my legacy is being the best person I can be and putting my teammates before myself,” Coyne said.
Her list of accolades is extensive. Coyne won this year’s Patty Kazmaier Award, got the nod as an All-American and conference all-star three times, is the leading all-time scorer for NU and Hockey East, won two gold medals in international tournaments representing the US and earned silver at the 2014 Olympics.
In addition to her tremendous on-ice accomplishments, Coyne has been a humble leader of the Huskies, attributing most of her personal successes to her teammates.
“There were individual milestones along the way, but none of those were possible without my teammates,” she said. “Even the Patty Kaz is an individual award, but I never could have won it without them.”
Her teammates, including junior forward Hayley Scamurra who played alongside Coyne on the top line this season, acknowledged how remarkable Coyne is on and off the ice.
“In regards to Kendall as a leader, she was able to push everyone to play at their best,” Scamurra said in an email to The News. “Her work ethic and passion for the game is unparalleled. Off the ice, she was so humble and spoke up when the team needed her to. I’m thankful for the opportunity I had playing with her.”
Head coach Dave Flint, who recruited Coyne and has coached her all four years, lauded the way Coyne has developed, boiling most of her progress down to maturity. In her time at NU, Flint saw Coyne go from a talented but raw freshman to a well-rounded captain in her final season.
“She’s done so much,” Flint said. “She’s going to be especially proud of what she’s done off the ice. She’s evolved into a great leader and an adult.”
Coyne agreed that she markedly matured in her time as a Husky, pointing to her junior year as when she came into her own.
“I think my first two years at Northeastern I was just going through my routine,” Coyne said. “After my Olympic year (2014), I realized that I can make an impact in the world. I really grew up […] and was able to make a commitment to hockey and doing good things off the ice.”
Flint recalled the process of bringing Coyne to NU, when he competed with the University of Minnesota and Cornell University for the highly touted recruit.
“It was a special moment for me as a coach,” Flint said. “We knew that she would be a difference maker right away.”
Coyne said that her decision to don red and black had a lot to do with the co-op program and the city of Boston, but Flint himself was a major factor.
“I really liked what coach Flint had to offer,” Coyne said. “The biggest thing is how he treats us as people, not just hockey players. He cares about our academics, our social lives and our family lives.”
Flint and Coyne had a symbiotic relationship, as the head coach also felt that he was able to learn a lot from his star player.
“She made me better as a coach every day,” Flint said. “I saw how hard she worked, and it made me work harder. It was a joy to coach her, and I was lucky enough that she chose Northeastern and trusted me enough to coach her.”
Through all the success Coyne has enjoyed in her career as a Husky, she said that her greatest accomplishment was bringing NU to its first NCAA Tournament this season.
“That was the biggest goal for myself and the team all along,” Coyne said. “We set that goal for ourselves before the season.”
Despite losing to Boston College in the first round of the tournament, getting to the national stage was a massive step forward for NU. In that game, Coyne still managed to make headlines, lighting the lamp late in the third period for her 50th goal of the season in just 37 games.
Although she was drafted third overall in the National Women’s Hockey League draft, Coyne plans to pursue her education before considering a professional hockey career.
After earning her bachelor’s degree in communication studies with a business administration minor this January, she now aims to pursue her master’s degree in corporate and organizational communication at Northeastern’s College of Professional Studies.
Photo courtesy Jim Pierce, Northeastern Athletics