There was Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita from the Chicago Blackhawks. Then there was Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier of the Edmonton Oilers. And don’t forget Batman and Robin.
Yet another dynamic duo has been born this season: senior forward Meghan Duggan and sophomore forward Brianna Decker of the Wisconsin women’s hockey team.
Decker and Duggan have been playing on the same line all season long. There’s no denying their chemistry on the ice has turned them into UW’s strongest offensive pair.
With a total of 66 goals between them, Duggan and Decker have each helped each other out on 30 of them.
“They’re a threat,” head coach Mark Johnson said. “Any time they’re on the ice, whether it’s on a power play or killing a penalty, when you have kids that have good chemistry — they know where each other is on the ice, play at a high level — it’s a threat. They become a threat every time they step out on the ice. Obviously that’s a good thing for out team.”
This season is the first year the two have played together. During Decker’s freshman year, Duggan was training for the Olympics.
Since hitting the ice together for the first time last post-season, they have been on the same line since day one.
“Coming in this year I knew she was an outstanding player,” Duggan said. “But we didn’t know each other that well. In the preseason in captain’s practice I had in the back of my mind ‘Gosh, I hope coach puts us together this year…’ That’s just the way it happened. We’ve been playing together since day one, all special teams and stuff like that. I think when you get to know someone that well you just have this thing on the ice. The chemistry just works and it’s been incredible.”
Not only has their chemistry on the ice been impossible to ignore, but their friendship off the ice has also helped their success.
“You have to be comfortable with who you’re playing with because it’s going to show on the ice,” Decker said. “If you’re not getting along off the ice it’s probably going to carry onto the ice. But yeah he put us together, so we kind of just forced our friendship.”
For two players with a few years of experience between them — one of which who also went to the Olympics — Duggan certainly has a lot of knowledge to share with Decker.
“I think definitely commitment to how you work and do on the ice and off the ice,” Decker said of what she’s learned from Duggan. “If you ever see her eat, she’s probably one of the healthiest eaters I’ve ever seen. I knew what you eat reflects how you perform on the ice, but she really shows that. And great leadership. Hopefully when I’m a junior and senior I can react to certain situations like she does.”
But Decker has also brought out the best in Duggan.
“She’s forced me to elevate my game, and I think it’s mutual,” Duggan said. “I think both of us compete hard for each other and expect a lot out of each other, so it works well.”
This dynamic duo seems to have a sixth sense for one another.
Even this past weekend against St. Cloud, Decker and Duggan found each other for four goals out of the 14 the squad had in the series.
No matter where they may be on the ice they have an uncanny ability to find the other one — and eventually the back of the net.
“It’s funny actually we were watching video last time we played North Dakota and we were always looking at the Lamoureux twins and how they pass back and forth to each other and they find each other like sisters,” Duggan said. ”We just goofed afterwards that we have that same sense that twins do.”
“I think some people think we’ve been playing together for a couple years now, but it’s only been months,” Decker added.
As Duggan begins to play her final games as a Badger, the two only have a few games left until their remarkable chemistry is no longer a Wisconsin hockey staple.
But if there is one thing Decker will never forget about her linemate, it’s her intensity. Their mutual will to win is just another thing these two share.
“She never likes to lose,” Decker. “If you take the puck from her, she wants it back. Her determination to score and to want to win — she hates losing… that’s my favorite thing about her.”