The big year for Kendall Coyne continues

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Kendall Coyne, top, of the United States, is hoisted by her fiance Michael Schofield as they celebrate on the ice after the U.S. beat Canada in the women's gold medal hockey game at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

by Scott King

You’d think being the lone woman in a summer league tournament featuring top NHL talent at the Blackhawks new MB Ice Arena practice facility would be a big enough deal for Kendall Coyne.

This past February the 26-year-old Palos Heights native won an Olympic gold medal with Team USA following an edge-of-your-seat 3-2 shootout victory over Canada. The achievement yielded a seemingly never-ending tour of appearances and obligations that much to her credit, Coyne is always happy to accommodate.

Four days prior to participating in the inaugural season of the Chicago Pro Hockey League, she married San Diego Chargers lineman and fellow Carl Sandburg high school grad Michael Schofield.

“I had a pretty big dress,” Coyne said following her team (Jack Phelan Auto Group)’s 7-6 victory over Centric Wealth Management Wednesday night.

“I carried that around all day Saturday. In all honesty, a little bit tired [tonight]. It’s early in the summer and I think all of us are getting our legs back under us. You’ll see a progression I’m sure with the pace as the summer goes on.”

Big dress or not, Coyne looked like her speedy self in the contest and picked up an assist.

“It was an awesome experience,” Coyne said of her CPHL debut. “I’m excited for the rest of the summer. All the guys out there have so much respect for me and I have respect for them. I think it showed tonight and will the rest of the summer.”

Fans were lined up around the building prior to the games and packed the seats for a look at Coyne and Blackhawks like Alex DeBrincat.

Despite monumental career and personal achievements in 2018, Coyne’s participation in the league matters greatly to her. She sees it as another way to build up women’s hockey.

“It’s awesome,” Coyne said. “It’s tremendous to be a part of. It’s really exciting to hear some little girls up there watching proudly. Women’s hockey doesn’t always get the exposure it [should], so just to be out here and hear people call my name, it’s pretty cool and hopefully it continues to grow the game.”

The women’s hockey trailblazer was asked what her advice to the young girls cheering her on would be.

“Just to follow your dreams. You never know where you end up. It’s amazing to be standing here today as a two-time Olympian and just to be out there with the guys I grew up playing with. We all have the same goal and it’s to be the best we can be. It shows at the end of the day.”

The CPHL continues every Wednesday night through August 23.

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