POTSDAM — The Clarkson University women’s hockey program has twice featured a pair of sisters on its roster since it began in the 2003-04 season.
Strangely enough the sets of sisters, Carly and Cayley Mercer and currently Brooke and Kirstyn McQuigge, share the same beginning with the program, each scoring back-to-back goals in their opening game together.
On Monday night freshman Kirstyn McQuigge, who had joined the team a week earlier, scored at 2 minutes, 15 seconds of the second period against Long Island University. Just 3:01 later her older sister Brooke, a sophomore, responded with a goal of her own in a 5-1 Clarkson win.
The first time the Mercer sisters played together at Clarkson was a 12-1 win over the Rochester Institute of Technology on Sept. 28, 2013 at Cheel Arena.
Cayley Mercer, then a freshman, scored her first career goal at 9:39 of the first period. At 11:56 her older sister Carly, a senior, scored a goal.
Clarkson went on to win its first national title in 2013-14, which could be a good omen for this year’s squad.
“I hope that’s a good sign,” Clarkson coach Matt Desrosiers joked when told about the same start for each set of sisters.
Kirstyn McQuigge was originally scheduled to arrive as a freshman at Clarkson next season, but over the Christmas break she decided to start her career in the second semester.
She spent the last three years as a forward with the Whitby Wolves junior team, playing with Brooke from 2017-19. The sisters have an older sister, Rachel, who is a senior at Princeton but not playing this season because the Ivy League schools are skipping winter sports due to COVID-19.
“We kind of threw (Kirstyn) into some situations (Monday) just to get her some experience and I thought she handled them really well,” Desrosiers said.
Joining any team during a season can be a challenge, but with COVID-19 limiting the ability to see family, the McQuigge sisters are happy to be with each other.
“It made the whole process a lot better,” Kirstyn said of having Brooke already there. “It helped me out a lot with just getting here and it’s really nice having family here when it’s so hard, because my parents can’t come and watch us play.”
The two sisters spoke together on Zoom after Monday’s game and shared laughs when asked questions about how much they may try to outshine each other.
“I got to be able to play with both my older sister and Kirstyn,” Brooke said. “We were all very competitive. It’s really nice that we get another three-and-a-half years to play together. I would say we are similar type of players, more defensive forwards, We like to go and work hard and outwork the other team.”
Brooke is an inch taller than Kirstyn and last year as a freshman she established herself as a physical forward, who offered Patty Kazmaier winner Elizabeth Giguere some protection on the ice.
“Brooke is probably a bit more physical than me, but that’s definitely something I want to do like her,” Kirstyn said. “I would like to get a big more stronger in the corners.”
THE FAB FIVE
Five area girls, who all played on the same youth team, the St. Lawrence Shiver, were each supposed to be starting their NCAA Division I college hockey careers this season.
Two of them, Clayton native Mia Coene, and Ogdensburg’s Rose Jenault, have delayed the start of their careers this season as both joined Ivy League programs, which is taking the winter season off due to COVID-19. Coene is going to start school at Princeton in the fall and Jenault is already at Brown.
Two others have already started playing at Providence College. Mia’s twin sister, Maddy, has recorded two goals and one assist so far this season in 10 games, and Massena native Claire Tyo, a defenseman, has one goal and two assists for the Friars.
The last one of the group to take the ice this season will be St. Lawrence University forward Gabi Jones, a Potsdam native, whose first scheduled game is Jan. 22 at Colgate.
“I think it’s amazing,” Jones said of getting to play. “I have a bunch of friends in the ECAC as well and a couple of them don’t get to play, that’s super disappointing for them. I’ve been really looking forward to it.
“It’s been great watching some of the other players I’ve played with who already started their seasons, how much fun they are having with it. It was great to watch some of my old teammates play with a new team, when it’s always been with me. I’m really excited to get started.”