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What Makes Sarah Fillier So Good

Only 21, Sarah Fillier has quickly become one of the best young players in women's hockey. A panel of coaches and scouts share what they think makes her such a dominant presence.
Sarah Fillier

By now, you're probably familiar with Sarah Fillier.

We profiled her during the World Championship. There's even a story on her in the most recent issue of The Hockey News.

There's a reason she's getting so much attention: she's has emerged as one of the world's best women's hockey players, without a question. 

Fillier's Olympic debut started off with a huge three-point opening period, including the opening two goals of the game before it hit the eight-minute mark. This is only Fillier's second major tournament with the women's senior team, with her first result being a six-point run to win gold at the World Championship a few months ago.

Every time Fillier has worn the Canadian sweater, she's been unstoppable. And at 21 years old, she has only just gotten started.

"She plays like a puppy out there," a scout said. "She's always moving quick, chasing everyone, always wanting the puck. Her energy was what really stood out to her at younger levels before heading to Princeton.

Fillier is already a two-time Patty Kazmaier Award finalist for the top NCAA woman hockey player, and she only has two years to her credit. Prior to that, she was a dominant forward with the Oakville Hornets of the PWHL, where her 50-point campaign at 16 in 2016-17 was one of the best ever at her age.

"We knew we were in for a disaster every time we faced her," a rival PWHL coach said. "She brought carnage. She's so hard to stop."

Fillier's game is built around speed, smarts and good puck work. She attacks defenders at ease, forcing them to make quick decisions that often lead to bad turnovers. Fillier's release is quick, accurate and powerful and she's also hard to read on one-on-one situations. She's got all the makings of a player destined to take over the Canadian national team throne one day – and not too far down the line.

"If she was playing pro, she'd already be a star," a scout said. "She's got the tools any player would dream of: incredible hockey IQ, speed, a great shot. She's as close to pro-ready as you get in college."

Marie-Philip Poulin has said in the past that Fillier is the next star for Team Canada. Poulin herself has held the mantle as the nation's top women's hockey player, so having her say that about Fillier means a lot.

Some scouts see Poulin's ability to take over a shift in Fillier.

"When you need a big goal, Sarah stands up," one said. "You can trust her in just about every situation. She's mature beyond her years and has the skill to stand above the rest."

"Her footwork is tremendous," another scout said. "She's always moving quickly and is hard to contain on a rush. She streaks down the ice like Poulin always has."

Fillier's debut was a successful one, and that's all you can ask of her. Canda's biggest challenge of the round robin is Monday evening's contest against the United States, a team Fillier is all too familiar with. The Americans hate playing her already – so imagine how the rest of the competition will feel once they finally meet up with her later down the line.

Sarah Fillier's story has only just begun.


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