Poulin was captain of the Terriers, which meant talking more and louder in and out of the dressing room.
"This year because of her stature, she absolutely, positively had to be a leader on our team in more ways than just how she played," Terriers coach Brian Durocher said.
"She had to be more verbal and take the lead and maybe organize team things that are important on any team, but probably more important in women's hockey. She certainly rose to the challenge of doing that."
The 23-year-old from Beauceville, Que., is the lone Canadian among the three finalists for the Patty Kazmaier Award, which is the annual honour for the top female player in NCAA Division 1 hockey.
The winner will be announced Saturday in Minneapolis during the women's Frozen Four. Americans forwards Alex Carpenter (Boston College) and Hannah Brandt (Minnesota) are the other finalists.
Canadians know Poulin as the woman who scored the equalizer with less than a minute remaining in regulation and the overtime winner in last year's Olympic gold-medal game against the U.S.
At age 18, Poulin scored both of Canada's goals in a 2-0 victory over the Americans in the 2010 Olympic final.
She's been able to leave a lot of the talking and media interviews on Canada's national team to more veteran players, but not so as captain of the Terriers.
"I am a shy and quiet person, but I tried to find my voice," Poulin told The Canadian Press. "I don't talk too much, but I tried to find when to talk and when is the right time.
"I think I did do the right thing at the end of the season trying to step it up a little bit more knowing big games were coming up for us."
Despite missing five games early in the season with a knee ligament injury, the five-foot-seven 160-pound forward still ranked in the NCAA's top 10 in points (47), goals (22), assists (25), points per game (1.62) and faceoff percentage (63).
Poulin was also named the top defensive forward in the Hockey East conference.
"I could compare her to (Wayne) Gretzky or (Mario) Lemieux, but I kind of compare her to a guy named Ron Francis, who used to have to cover Gretzky or Lemieux or Peter Stastny, yet he still had 1,000 points in the NHL," Durocher said.
"That's a testament to how well that guy played at both ends of the ice and I see her in that light."
Poulin was named the Hockey East player of the month in both January and February with 12 goals and 19 assists over 17 games.
Her season highlight was two goals and an assist in a 4-1 win over Boston College to win the conference championship. The Eagles are ranked No. 1 in women's college hockey.
The No. 5-ranked Terriers were eliminated from Frozen Four contention last Saturday by Wisconsin in a 5-1 quarter-final loss.
"I know it's not the way we wanted to end it, but I think the team that we had was special and a special group of girls," Poulin said.
She has joined the Canadian women's team in Toronto for a camp prior to their departure next week for the women's world hockey championship in Malmo, Sweden.
Poulin was to fly to Minneapolis late Friday, however, and reunite with the national team Saturday night after the Kazmaier announcement. Meanwhile, she's working on her class assignments in order to graduate with a psychology degree next month.
"It's been busy for sure, but a good busy I think," Poulin said.
Clarkson's Jamie Lee Rattray of Ottawa won the Kazmaier in 2014. Other Canadian winners include Vicki Bendus of Wasaga Beach, Ont. (2010), Sarah Vaillancourt of Sherbrooke, Que., (2008), Sara Bauer of St. Catharines, Ont. (2006) and Winnipeg's Jennifer Botterill (2001, 2003).Suggest a correction