ORONO, Maine — When Tereza Vanisova and Vendula Pribylova flew home to the Czech Republic on Sunday, they were looking forward to seeing their families and friends.

But that wasn’t all.

“I can’t wait to have Czech food,” said Vanisova with a grin.

“It’s not as fatty [as American food],” Pribylova chimed in. “You eat a lot of pizza and french fries here, and that isn’t usual in the Czech Republic.”

But it’s not as though the University of Maine women’s hockey freshmen standouts are going to spend the next few weeks at the dining room table. They will be playing in a couple of tournaments with the Czech Republic national team.

Then, in February, they will rejoin the national team for the Olympic qualifying tournament in Switzerland.

Both have made tremendous impacts at UMaine this season.

Right winger Vanisova leads the Black Bears in scoring with 12 goals and 10 assists in 19 games. Her 22 points rank second among the nation’s freshmen, and her 12 goals are tied for second. Her 1.16 points per game average is third.

Center Pribylova is third on the team in points with 13 (four goals, nine assists), and her 0.68 points per game average puts her 15th in the country among first-year players.

“They are doing a wonderful job,” said Boston University coach Brian Durocher.

He said the one word that best describes the duo is “strength.”

“The way they shoot the puck, the way they execute a pass, their balance and power on their skates [showcases their strength],” said Durocher. “Their success isn’t a mirage. There aren’t any lucky bounces. They are accomplished players who have played in international tournaments. That gives them experience and confidence.”

“They are dynamic offensively,” said UConn coach Chris MacKenzie. “To have the impact they’ve had as freshmen is impressive.”

With the exception of playing for their national age-group teams and now the senior national team, playing on a women’s team is a relatively new venture for Vanisova and Pribylova.

They spent virtually their entire careers playing on boys teams in the Czech Republic, although Vanisova competed last year for an all-women’s team at the Hockey Training Institute near Toronto.

In women’s hockey, unlike men’s hockey, body checking isn’t allowed.

“Playing on boys teams isn’t a bad thing,” said Providence College coach Bob Deraney. “It’s a huge advantage. That’s why they have been able to adapt so quickly. They’re both really good players.”

They have had to adjust to the no-checking mentality.

“It’s a big difference between girls hockey and boys hockey,” said the 5-foot-8 Vanisova, who is from Strakonice. “It’s a big thing for us to not play the body because we usually play the body.”

“And the ice is smaller here,” said the 5-7 Pribylova, who is from Olomouc.

Teams in the Czech Republic play on Olympic-sized ice sheets (200 feet by 100 feet), and North American rinks are usually 200-by-85.

Pribylova and Vanisova have known each other for seven years and have played both with and against each other.

They are thankful for their opportunity to attend UMaine on hockey scholarships. They followed some other players from the Czech Republic to America such as Northeastern University junior forward Denisa Krizova.

“There are no college women’s teams in the Czech Republic,” said Pribylova. “You either play hockey or get your education.”

Vanisova said the year she spent at the Hockey Training Institute was helpful in that it enabled her to work on learning the English language.

“It hasn’t been easy,” said Vanisova.

However, Pribylova’s and Vanisova’s English is quite good.

“When they first got here, they said they were kind of afraid of how they were speaking English, but we reassured them that their English is better than they think it is,” said UMaine assistant coach and former Black Bear player Brooklyn Langlois.

The Czechs said the weather and climate is similar in Maine to the Czech Republic, and they love the people here.

“There are very nice people everywhere,” said Pribylova. “They are really kind. They’ll always help you.”

Vanisova said she likes being near the ocean and near national parks and is looking forward to exploring them when the season is over.

The women take a lot of the same classes together and feel that playing college hockey in the United States offers them the best opportunity to improve.

They said getting around is one of the difficult aspects of living in Maine. They have driver’s licenses, but neither one has a car.

The duo pointed out that the cities in the Czech Republic have excellent public transportation systems so you don’t need a vehicle.

They are happy with the way they have played so far and are hoping to lead the 6-12-1 Black Bears to a better second half.

Vanisova and Pribylova are popular with their teammates and coaches.

“They have fit right in,” said Austrian junior winger Victoria Hummel. “It’s great that they’re here. They’re just like one of us.

“Teresa is really fast, and it seems like the puck is always with her. And Vendy is a real fighter. She never gives up. She has a great eye and gives nice passes,” she added.

“They’ve very humble, and they put in the effort every day. They definitely bring offense to the team, and that’s what we were lacking last year,” Junior defenseman Jess Vallotton said.

“They are offensively gifted, and they make the other players around them better. They have really changed the dynamic of our team offensively,” said UMaine head coach Richard Reichenbach.

The Czechs have adapted to playing a more structured game with defense being a higher priority than it was in the Czech Republic, and Reichenbach said they have really improved in that aspect of their game.

“So we’ve put them on the penalty kill and different defensive situations,” said Reichenbach.

UMaine returns to action on Jan. 7, 2017, when it travels to the University of Vermont for a two-game series.