The connection between linemates in hockey is on par with the type of chemistry quarterbacks have with their receivers in football. Linemates whizzing around defenders and putting tape-to-tape passes into motion operate like a well-oiled machine, just as a quarterback spiraling a pass into their receiver’s hands does.
But the connection between linemates who happen to be identical twins is even more special.
Maine, who faced Boston College women’s hockey Thursday night in Conte Forum, boasts three sets of sisters on its roster, including twins Luisa and Lilli Welcke, two freshman forwards from Heidelberg, Germany.
After a scoreless first period, Luisa Welcke received a cross-ice pass from her sister, Lilli Welcke, and potted a bardown snipe over BC goaltender Abigail Levy just over six minutes into the second frame. But the twins’ lone goal was all Maine could muster in the game.
On the backs of Cayla Barnes, Kelly Browne, and Abby Newook, the Eagles (12–7–1, 9–5–0 Hockey East) notched a 4–1 victory over Maine (11–11, 8–7) for their sixth consecutive win, and their first win against Maine since the Black Bears knocked them out of Hockey East playoff contention 314 days ago.
Donning brand new sweaters, BC took offensive control quickly. With Browne and Katie Pyne camped in front of the net on two separate plays, Barnes slid centering passes to the front of the net, but her forwards failed to convert.
After the 10-minute mark, the Black Bears flipped the ice, and scoring chances began to tilt in their direction. By the end of the first period, Maine was outshooting BC 10–8.
“First period, we were just getting our jitters out,” Browne said. “We haven’t played in a month, so I think just realizing we’re a good team and, you know, restart the second period and come playing the way we can.”
Luisa Welcke’s second-period goal came at the height of Maine’s offensive prowess, as it controlled the neutral zone, allowing the Welcke sisters to set up a 2-on-1 chance.
The Black Bears’ goal sent a shock wave through BC’s system, and the Eagles began to rebound, with Maine failing to capitalize on loose-puck battles.
Just nine minutes into the second period, Newhook circled the neutral zone and hugged the boards with the puck on her stick. With one swift motion, Newhook placed a backhand pass into Barnes’ reach, who one-timed the puck into the back of the net, tying the game 1–1.
“That’s Barnes stepping up and being a leader,” BC head coach Katie Crowley said. “We needed a goal and we were hunting there but weren’t able to put one in, and I think you just saw her elevate her game. It just shows how good she really is.”
Two minutes later, Newhook took a shot that sailed wide, but Barnes kept the play alive. Regaining the puck with speed, Newhook slotted home a wrist shot into the top shelf of the net for her 11th goal of the season, propelling BC to a 2–1 lead.
With 5:33 left in the period, Browne went on a breakaway, and with a one-two deke, tallied BC’s third unanswered goal of the night, putting the Eagles ahead by two.
“That’s what we need from our veteran leaders,” Crowley said. “Players like [Barnes] and Kelly [Browne] that have been through a lot with our program.”
Just after the end of the BC’s first power play of the night—which extended over a minute into the beginning of the third period—Browne moved the puck onto her backhand side in the low circle area and flung an airborne pass toward the net, attempting to hit Pyne in the slot.
But her pass bounced off a Maine defender and redirected through Bailey Oakes’ crease. The score marked Browne’s second goal of the game and third of the season.
“I’ve been waiting a long time for that,” Browne said. “Just coming into the second half of the season, it’s kind of like looking at it as a new season now. It’s trophy season, and it’s just a fresh start for me and the whole team.”
With just over 10 minutes remaining, officials sent Maddie Crowley-Cahill to the box for elbowing. Just as that penalty was beginning to expire, officials called Jenna Carpenter for a hooking penalty.
But even on a 5-on-3 man advantage, the Black Bears were no match for BC’s penalty kill—which ranks sixth in the nation—and the Eagles successfully knocked off 3:47 consecutive minutes of penalty time en route to their victory.