Many high school coaches and players will describe their team as a family.
With the Mount Mansfield girls hockey team, the term is not just a description — it’s a reality. The Cougars boast three sets of sisters on the roster, meaning that they are, quite literally, family.
“It brings a different feeling into the locker room, there is a lot of love, everyone loves each other,” said Alana Scott, one part of the Scott duo. “It makes everyone else feel like sisters, everyone on the team is my sister too.”
Mount Mansfield’s sister sets — Alana and Audrey Scott, Riley and Mullein Carbone, and Molly and Anna Burke — are helping rebuild a program that has returned to full-time varsity status this season.
The Cougars (2-8) are relying on the sibling chemistry that all six players admit they feel on the ice with their sister.
“When the sisters play together, we all play really well together,” Anna Burke, a freshman, said.
“It’s nice when you’ll be in on the forecheck and you’ll look up and know that she is going to be there,” Audrey Scott added.
Both the Burkes and the Scotts, all forwards, played on a line together at the beginning of the season until they were split up a couple of weeks ago. The Carbone sisters, both defensemen, see time together on the power play.
“There is definitely chemistry,” coach Paul Wintersteen said. “They definitely know where each other and there are times that we can put them together and there are times when we have to move them apart as well.”
For all six Cougars, who are playing together on the same team for the first time, it is something they looked forward to before the season started. Though, at some points, the sibling connection can be a bit problematic.
“We think exactly the same,” Anna Burke said of how she plays with her sister. “We will do the same play at the exact same time.”
“I gave her a concussion at the beginning of the year because we were both going for the same play,” Molly Burke added.
Potential collisions are not the only avenue that a team filled with sisters has to worry about navigating. All three sets of sisters and the coach have focused on making sure that the entire team leaves the drama at the locker room door.
“We just try to leave it at home.” Molly Burke, a junior, said. “I could be mad at Anna for stealing my t-shirt, but it’s not fair for me to be mad at her at hockey because I wouldn’t be mad at any of my other teammates for that.”
Mount Mansfield is not the only team navigating the season with a large group sisters on the team. Middlebury has two sets — Timi, Julia and Angela Carone, and Rachel and Carey Ann Howlett. For coach Matt Brush, the chemistry between the sisters is palpable.
“Players that have relationships outside of the ice rink have special chemistry on the ice, the same goes for,” Brush said.
The Carones, who are member-to-member players from Fair Haven, are particularly good at finding each other on the ice, Brush said.
“They are a big part of our offense, a big part of our team,” he said.
For the Mount Mansfield coach, the sisters’ presence has brought more than goals.
“They have enjoyed the experience so far, so that creates positive energy and creates a more positive locker room,” Wintersteen said. “The rest of the team recognizes that and makes a positive out of it.”