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Averill Sisters Carry On Family Legacy with Team USA

By Nicole Haase, 01/09/24, 5:15PM EST


Caroline and Maggie Averill’s mother, Alison, played on the U.S. U18 Select Team in the 1990s

The Averill family poses for a photograph in Zug, Switzerland.

ZUG, Switzerland — Family legacies are commonplace among USA Hockey teams — particularly with the younger rosters — but for a pair of players on the U.S. Under-18 Women’s National Team, the connection is one that its hoped can be repeated over and over.

The IIHF U18 Women’s World Championship was first played in 2008. But even before then, the U.S. and Canada were putting together what they called U18 select teams who would play a series of games against each other. 

In 1995, that team included future Olympians Angela Ruggiero, Courtney Kennedy and Jenny Schmidgall, as well as a tall, talented puck-handling defender named Alison Coughlin. A two-time Patty Kazmaier Award top-ten finalist who still holds a place in Princeton record books with one of the most prolific goal-scoring careers in their history (89 goals, 147 points), Coughlin would go on to marry Will Averill, himself part of a family legacy of men’s hockey players at Northeastern University. 

Two of their daughters, Margaret (Maggie) and Caroline, made history as the first pair of sisters to make a U.S. U18 roster together, and they are playing in the U18 Women’s World Championship in Zug, Switzerland, this week. 

Through Team USA’s first two games, Caroline has two goals on two shots on goal, while Maggie has more shots than any other defender on the team, is averaging more than 18 minutes a game and scored her first goal against host Switzerland on Monday.

Team USA is 2-0, with a 7-1 win over Slovakia and an 8-1 win over the Swiss. The Americans will face Sweden on Wednesday (6 a.m. ET on NHL Network) in their final preliminary-round game. That game is a rematch of the 2023 semifinal where Sweden upset the Americans, 2-1, and kept Team USA from the gold-medal game for the first time since the tournament began. The U.S. rebounded to win bronze but is looking to exact a little revenge this year and earn the top position in Group B. 

The Averill sisters pose for a photograph in Zug, Switzerland.

The Averill sisters are hoping to continue to have an impact on Team USA’s fortunes in this tournament. Though Maggie is the younger sister by about 19 months, she’s physically bigger. At 5-feet-11-inches, she takes after her mother’s size and is an imposing defender who showed off her instinct on when to drift further into the zone to become more of the offensive play in the second period against Switzerland. Maggie took a cross-ice pass from Jordyn Petrie at the far faceoff dot and placed it far post and over the goalie’s shoulder to score her first of the tournament. 

It’s easy to see traces of both parents’ skills and influence in Maggie and Caroline. 

Kennedy remembers that Alison had smooth hands to go along with her height. Her long stride and strength made her near impossible to win the puck from. Penn State Women’s Hockey coach Jeff Kampersal, who coached Alison at Princeton and played with Will on the Richmond Renegades in the ECHL, once said Alison could stickhandle around someone in a phone booth. 

“She was a dynamic offensive player — great vision, great hands, and a pure goal scorer,” Kampersal said. “Most players today curl and drag, starting the move on their forehand. Ali is the only player I've coached that would start the move on her backhand, somehow get the puck to her forehand so she could rip the puck right away.”

Will, Kampersal said, was an offensive defender who was very poised, had great vision and had a great first pass. 

Caroline, a forward, showed she carries some of her parents’ vision with her second goal against Slovakia. It came from a blown play where Caroline saw what developed instead and put herself in position to receive a pass from down low and tip it in. 

She has shown nice moves in tight spaces in front of the net and the ability to carve out space even among multiple defenders. Her first goal was the product of a lot of puck movement around the perimeter from her teammates, and Caroline found a way to be open in traffic and quickly find the back of the net. 

The Averill sisters first foray into international competition with Team USA comes with a lot of excitement and a lot of nerves, but those emotions are tempered by sharing them with each other. The siblings are also lucky to be close with another USA teammate, Molly Boyle, who’s the captain of their high school squad at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts. A three-time camp invitee, it’s Boyle’s first U18 World Championship, but her experience and leadership helped the Averill’s find their role among this team. 

The sisters are each other’s biggest supporters and best hype-women. Caroline said that even though she’s the older sibling, she still looks up to Maggie, while Maggie said Caroline is the smartest hockey player she knows. Their familiarity on the ice makes them formidable, particularly in an environment where teams have such a short time to develop chemistry. 

All the years skating with their parents and siblings on the backyard hockey rink are paying off as Maggie and Caroline live out their childhood dream of playing for Team USA. 

“It's definitely so exciting because it's something we've been working towards together our whole lives,” Caroline said. “It’s definitely a dream come true and we're just happy to be here together.” 

Following the path that their mom forged makes the experience even more special. 

“It's definitely pretty cool to see what she did and then follow in her footsteps,” Maggie said. 

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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