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Making their mark

February 27, 2009


Monique and Jocelyne Lamoureux and another player in a game against Harvard.

Monique Lamoureux (center) and sister Jocelyne (right) celebrate a goal against Harvard earlier this season.

Photo: courtesy University Athletics

Twins Jocelyne and Monique Lamoureux provide boost for top-ranked Gophers

By Rick Moore

Jocelyne and Monique Lamoureux walked toward the front doors of Ridder Arena a few minutes in advance of a scheduled interview. As they were approaching, it didn't take long to figure out who they were; all that shared DNA tends to be a dead giveaway. And a quick look at the numbers on their coats offered the final clue: 12 and 21.

Numbers 12 (Jocelyne) and 21 (Monique) may ultimately be to Minnesota women's hockey what Nos. 13 and 4 (Whalen and McCarville) were to women's basketball five years ago. Time will tell on that one—since the Lamoureuxs follow in the footsteps of many outstanding Gopher hockey players—but in just their first season at the U, they've taken the hockey world by storm.

Monique leads the nation in scoring with 67 points (33 goals and 34 assists). Jocelyne is fourth in the country and second on the Gophers with 56 points. Between the two of them, they were named WCHA Rookie of the Week five times (Monique four times and Jocelyne once). They've each been named WCHA Offensive Player of the Week once, and they shared that honor on January 21 after a remarkable series against Bemidji State.

Moreover, they've been key additions this season to a Gophers team that is ranked No. 1 in the country and last weekend wrapped up its first regular-season WCHA title since 2004-05.

The individual statistics have turned some heads, too. Monique and Jocelyne are among the 43 nominees (along with fellow Gophers Gigi Marvin and Melanie Gagnon) for the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award, presented each year to the top player in Division I women's hockey. Not bad company for freshmen.

Certainly, not everyone in the hockey world knows who the Lamoureuxs are—yet—but they may have a few more fans in Manhattan. The twins were profiled this week in a feature in the New York Times. From the Minnesota Daily to the Times... Impressive.

Growing up in the Great White North

The Lamoureuxs come about their athletic abilities and hockey prowess naturally. Their father, Jean-Pierre, was a goalie for a North Dakota team that won two national championships in the early '80s. Their mother, Linda, swam in college and has since become a marathon runner.

But their brothers may be their biggest influence, because they all competed on the same sheets of ice in their hometown of Grand Forks, North Dakota. Jean-Phillippe was a standout goalie for North Dakota who is now playing in the East Coast Hockey League. Jacques plays for Air Force, Pierre-Paul at the University of Manitoba, and Mario at UND.

As kids, "We always wanted to tag along and join with [our brothers]," Monique says. "When you play with them, you don't want them to think that [you're not very good], so you're always trying hard, because you want to prove yourself."

She has especially fond memories of practicing with her brothers' teams and getting pointers on playing defense from Pierre-Paul. "When you get to interact with your siblings in that way, it's definitely a bond you share," she says. "It's fun getting to play with them."

And they didn't just hang out with the guys on the ice. "Growing up, the girls would... I don't know what kind of games they'd play at recess. But when we came out, we'd go play football with the guys, and we'd be the only girls out there," says Jocelyne. "I think it definitely helped our competitiveness."

Even though their father and two brothers had allegiances to North Dakota, UND was not on Jocelyne's and Monique's final list, and they occasionally take some good-natured ribbing for that. "Growing up in Grand Forks, there was, I'd say, a unifying dislike for the Gophers," Jocelyne notes.

The choice came down to Minnesota and the Wisconsin Badgers, whom the Gophers edged out by a single point this year to win the league title. They made their decision while on a visit to Ridder Arena to watch a game against, of all opponents, Wisconsin. "During warm-ups, we were up in the concourse. We just kind of looked at each other like, 'Yeah, this is where we're going to go,'" Jocelyne says.

Helping put a good team over the top

Monique and Jocelyne aren't the only high-octane players on the Gophers; in fact, senior co-captain Marvin notched three goals in the season-ending series against St. Cloud State and has 24 for the season, the same total as Jocelyne. But the Lamoureuxs provide a measure of potential energy, along with linemate Brittany Francis, which puts opposing teams—and fans—on notice.

When the Lamoureuxs break out of their own zone to neutral ice, the crowd starts to stir in anticipation of some magic. Often, when they're on the ice and the Gophers are short-handed, their opponents appear no better off with an extra skater. (Monique's four short-handed goals this year are tied for second in the nation.)

Speaking of penalties, Nos. 12 and 21 are not exactly angels in Gophers clothing. Jocelyne leads Minnesota in penalty minutes, and Monique is not far behind. If their game leans toward being a bit too physical, you can blame it on the boys, especially the brothers.

"I remember when we were playing street hockey, my brother (Jacques) slashed me pretty hard on the back of the leg. Actually, it was very hard," Jocelyne says. "And I ran in crying to my mom and she just said, 'If you're going to play with the boys, that's going to happen.'"

Yes, they have taken their share of hits, and they've come back to the pond/rink/arena after every one. But that's not the entire story. "We held our ground pretty good," Jocelyne says without much of a smile. "We definitely weren't the receiving party of every hit." So it may be a good thing for opponents that checking isn't allowed in women's hockey.

Beyond that, their games are very similar. "I think she's better out of the corners than I am—passing the puck and threading it through people's sticks," says Monique. "I think I'm better at getting open in those situations and she's better in the passes, so it works out nicely. Other than that, I'd say she's probably a better stick-handler than me, but I think I probably have a little harder slap shot."

On the twins intuition thing

The Lamoureuxs were asked if their sense for each other on the ice is due more to having played together for so many years, or to some intangible intuition that twins share.

"I think it's a little bit of both," says Monique. "If she goes into a situation during a game, I can pretty much know what she's going to do with it. I'd say it's more of a predictability thing than a twin intuition thing."

"It's a twin thing from always being together," Jocelyne suggests. "Being with someone that much, you just know what they're going to do. You know how they'll react."

Monique and Jocelyne also share something with all four of their brothers—"matching" tattoos that the siblings decided to get over winter break. Apparently, Pierre-Paul came up with the design, and a tattoo artist came to the house. However, no one informed their father about the plan, and he wasn't exactly overjoyed when walking into the parlor. "I wasn't there, but I don't think he was too happy," Jocelyne says. "I think he's softening up to the idea, though."

The design includes a crest with half a star and half a maple leaf, representing the American and Canadian heritage of their mother and father. And the crest is surrounded with six hearts, representing each of the siblings. Jocelyne showed off her tattoo at the interview, but points out that hers is smaller than everyone else's—lacking wings and the Lamoureux surname. "I wasn't really big on tattoos, but everyone was doing it," she says. "I got the more modest version of it."

Jocelyne was asked if she and Monique share any quirky habits of note, perhaps a unique pre-game superstition. "No, I'm not really superstitious, I guess," she says. "I think that just leaves room for excuses." And, as she and her sister learned from playing with the boys, there is precious little room in hockey for those.
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March 9 update: The Gophers enter the NCAA tournament as the No. 2 seed following a 5-3 loss to Wisconsin in the championship game of the WCHA Final Faceoff yesterday. Minnesota will host Boston College in a quarterfinal game at Ridder Arena on Saturday, March 14, at 4 p.m. The winner will move on to the NCAA Frozen Four March 20 & 22 in Boston. For more information, see  GopherSports.com.

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