This is the tenth in a series of articles honoring the 20 players who have been selected to the WCHA's 20th anniversary all-time team. This week's honorees are Monique Lamoureux-Morando, a forward/defenseman and Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson, a forward, who played at the University of Minnesota from 2008-09 and at the University of North Dakota from 2010-11 to 2012-13.
By Bill Brophy
Brian Idalski has been a coach for over half of the first 20 years of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA). He is very aware and quite respectful of the great players that have performed in the country's preeminent women's conference. He can tick off the names of the league's Olympians and all-Americans like he can his own children.
So he knows what he is doing when he says two of his former players at North Dakota, Monique Lamoureux-Morando and Jocelyn Lamoureux-Davidson, are unique among the top 20 players in the first 20 years of WCHA play.
"When you go through the list of the top 20 players," Idalski says, "how many took their team from the bottom of the league and made it super competitive and made it into a top-10 program in the country? Not many players can claim that, but these girls can. Face it, the league was the Big Three, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Duluth, when they started. It is still the same now. But it changed for the years when they were playing."
Around the league, the Lamoureuxs were marquee players, the sisters who played with an edge and skill. Around Grand Forks, N.D., they were the twins, the local kids who have four older brothers, all of whom played at the collegiate level.
However, they didn't stick around home for their teenage years after playing youth hockey with the boys teams. Instead they moved to Faribault, Minn. to play prep hockey at Shattuck St. Mary's, where they led their team to three national championships, before starting their college careers at Minnesota. Monique had 39 goals and 75 points, third best in the country, as a rookie forward with the Gophers, while Jocelyne was fourth in the country with 65 points (28 goals) and was named to the all-WCHA first team. While North Dakota fans watched the Lamoureuxs skate into the Frozen Four with the Gophers, it was tough to root for the bitter rival from the state next door.
The Lamoureuxs didn't play college hockey in 2009-10, earning the first of three berths on the U.S. Olympic team. They came home from Vancouver's Winter Games with the first of two silver medals and an announcement that delighted UND fans: They were coming home to play for the Fighting Sioux.
North Dakota had been competing in women's hockey since 2002-03 and been in the WCHA since 2004-05, but the Sioux had never won more than nine conference games and never finished higher than in sixth place when the Lamoureuxs told Idalski they wanted to play for him. To show the difference the twins made in the program, Idalski's career record at UND in three years with the Lamoureuxs was 68-37-7. Without the twins, Idalski's UND teams were 101-119-32.
"They are just dynamic players," said Idalski, who is now coaching at Culver Academy in Indiana.
The Lamoureuxs had an immediate impact. North Dakota won 20 games, finished fourth with its first winning record in the WCHA (16-10-2) in 2010-11. Jocelyne scored 28 goals and led the team with 57 points. Monique agreed to switch back to defense and still scored 22 goals and had 54 points.
"We weren't beating teams in transition, so our team needed to find someone to shoot from the blue line," said Idalski. "Monique had the ability to switch to a new position and for the team's sake, she was willing to move from forward to defense. As it turned out, not many players can say they were an all-American as both a forward and a defenseman."
In 2010-11, Monique scored 71 points, including 26 goals, as North Dakota qualified for its first NCAA berth ever. Jocelyne led the country with 82 points, including 34 goals, and was named an all-American and Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award finalist. The twins led North Dakota to a 22-win season and a third-place finish in the WCHA, but UND fell to Minnesota in the NCAA quarterfinals.
The Lamoureuxs final season in Grand Forks was North Dakota's best ever. The Sioux went 26-12-1, finished second in the WCHA and qualified for the NCAA tournament again. But again they ran into the Gophers at Ridder Arena in a national quarterfinal and lost a lost heartbreaker, 3-2 in three overtimes – the closest any team came to wrecking Minnesota's unprecedented 41-0 season.
Monique was named an all-American in her final year and finished her college career as the second all-time leading scorer with 265 points (113 goals and 152 assists in 149 games). Jocelyne was also named an all-American after scoring 35 goals and 81 points, third best in the NCAA, in her final season. She finished her college career as a two-time winner of the WCHA Student-Athlete of the Year award and the all-time leading scorer with 285 points (125 goals and 160 assists in 149 games).
Idalski said Jocelyne was much more than just a scorer, however.
"Joce's ability as a leader in the locker room is what stood out," said Idalski, who coached an assistant for a year at St. Cloud State before starting his 10-year head coaching career at North Dakota. "She played center for us, always taking big draws and making big plays. A difference-maker. She loved pressure situations and defensively, she was solid for us. I usually matched her against the other team's best players to make their secondary players beat us. Jocelyne liked that role."
After leaving UND, the Lamoureuxs won another silver medal at the Winter Games in Sochi, Russia in 2014. They have also won six gold medals and a silver while playing for the United States at IIHF world tournaments and last February in Pyeongchang, Korea added Olympic gold medals to their collection by being vital contributors to the United States' victory over Canada in the gold medal game.
Monique had the game-tying, breakaway goal in the third period and Jocelyne had the epic game-winner in the shootout with a dazzling move she worked on with UND assistant coach Peter Elander many times before she ever dreamed it would go down in history as the one which gave the U.S. its first Olympic gold in 20 years.
"She had worked on that move for long time," said Idalski, who found out the University of North Dakota was dropping women's hockey in March of 2017, 11 months before the Lamoureuxs became household words in the hockey community with their Olympic exploits. "Peter spent a lot of time with her on it. They always worked on their shots. They were shooters and had heavy shots. Peter always encouraged her to work on her shooting and try things."
Idalski watched the gold medal game with many of his former UND colleagues and players. He chuckled when he heard the commentators wondering aloud why the Lamoureuxs didn't get more ice time in the medal round.
"Those were games they lived for and they wanted to be leaned on to make big plays," said Idalski.
The sisters were among the Olympic media darlings who appeared nationally on TV talk shows after the Winter Games, but lately they have stayed closer to home. Monique and her husband Anthony Morando became parents last month, and Jocelyne and her husband Brent Davidson are expecting their first child.
Last week, the Grand Forks Herald named the Lamoureux sisters as their Persons of the Year and Brad Schlossman's engaging story on the twins' Olympic journey is here:
The newspaper's honor is just another indication that the Lamoureux will always be the face of North Dakota women's hockey, a bittersweet title, now that the school no longer has a program.
"They put it on the map," said Idalski. "No doubt, they made women's hockey at North Dakota. The hard part for a lot of us is wondering what would have followed and what their legacy will be without a program there."
About the WCHA 20th Anniversary Team
As it celebrates 20 Years of Excellence during the 2018-19 season, the Women's League of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) will honor the 20 alumnae named to the WCHA 20th Anniversary Team. The team will be revealed, one-by-one, in alphabetical order, one per week (except for the week of Dec. 24) through the week of March 4, prior to the 2019 WCHA Final Faceoff.
From an initial list of 120 nominations, representing each of the league's all-time eight schools, the WCHA 20th Anniversary Team Committee selected 41 finalists. To be nominated a player (forward, defenseman or goaltender) must have completed her collegiate eligibility at a WCHA institution (nominees did not have to play a full four seasons in the WCHA; however, current student-athletes were not eligible).
The WCHA 20th Anniversary team was determined by 1/3 fan vote, 1/3 WCHA alumnae vote and 1/3 Committee vote (consisting of two WCHA Office staff, one former and two current head coaches and three alumnae).