Hockey fans in Grand Forks, N.D., have been watching them since they were the miniest of Mites. They cheered their accomplishments as members of the University of North Dakota’s Fighting Sioux, and now they had a chance to give them a grand sendoff in potentially their last game at Ralph Engelstad Arena.
Monique and Jocelyne Lamoureux didn’t disappoint the home crowd of 5,559, the largest ever to watch a women's game in North Dakota .
“It was awesome. It was a great crowd. We didn’t know about the ceremony until yesterday so it was pretty special that they put that together for us,” said Monique, who had a goal and an assist to win Player of the Game honors in a 4-1 victory over Team Canada on Friday night.
“For us, being in our home barn it was pretty bittersweet since this was our final game in the Ralph. It’s awesome being home. Everyone has been so supportive. I can’t even express how appreciative of the support we’ve received since we were home.”
Prior to the game, the twins were honored with a video tribute and a special presentation from UND President Robert Kelley and his wife Marcia, along with members of their family, including their brother Jacques, who recently returned from a deployment in Kuwait.
“We’re all a really close family so having him for that and my grandma and my parents was pretty cool. This place is home for Monique and I and this community means a lot to us. To be able to share,” said Jocelyne, who added a goal and an assisted on Monique’s goal with 11 seconds left in the first period.
Cultivating The Next Generation Of Team USA Stars
Before she gave a pep talk to the U.S. Women’s National Team heading into their game against Canada on Friday, head coach Katey Stone offered a few words of inspiration to a group of local youth hockey players.
Joined by assistant coach Hilary Witt and defenseman Megan Bozek, Stone was told the group of more than 100 girls representing youth hockey associations from around the state that they can be the next generation of U.S. Women’s Team players if they believe in themselves.
“They have an opportunity to see what potentially could be their dream in 10 or 15 years,” said Stone, who admitted that she never had an opportunity to play girls’ hockey growing up in Watertown, Conn.
Then, during the game, Stone was impressed with how loud the crowd was, especially with the young girls who rattled the rafters as they screamed for their heroes.
“I was shocked by how loud the building was. At one point I was feeling like the thunder was going to me as well,” she said. “What an environment for these kids to be able to play in. What another great test and experience for us leading up to Sochi.”
Briana Decker has been a model of consistency so far on the Bring On The World Tour. The Dousman, Wis., native has at least one point in every game Team USA has played against Canada. She added to that streak by rifling a low shot past Canada goaltender Shannon Szabados to ignite a three-goal second period.
Duggan, who is looking to make her second U.S. Women’s Olympic Teams, entered the game tied with Kelli Stack for the team scoring lead with nine points.
“I think we took some momentum off of last week’s win in Calgary and it kept going tonight,” Decker said.
“I think we’ve made a lot of adjustments since Four Nations and have been very competitive in practice and I think that carried along in the games. They’ve been competing against us but it’s just a competitive game out there but that’s what we like.”
Grand Forks Becomes Grand Stage for Women's Game
Greg Evenson, the president of North Dakota Amateur Hockey Association, dropped the ceremonial first puck to Meghan Duggan and Caroline Ouellette.
Bringing such a high level event as the pre-Olympic exhibition is a boon to amateur hockey in a state that already has a rich hockey tradition.
“It’s great that our girls get to see the Lamoureuxs and to know that they came through the USA Hockey system,” Evenson said. “Every girl in the arena tonight knows the Lamoureux sisters and their history, and so every girl can have the same dream that they have and know that it can be realized.”
New Face Behind Bench for Canada
Despite a wealth of experience as a player and coach, Kevin Dineen will be the first to admit he has a lot to learn about the women’s game before the puck drops in Sochi.
Friday marked Dineen’s first game behind the bench for Team Canada after accepting the position on Sunday, just days after head coach Dan Church stepped down on Dec. 12.
While he was mainly trying to focus on his own team he couldn’t help but be impressed with the U.S. squad.
“I was really just trying to focus on our team and just keep an eye on what we were up to and pick up some individual tendencies,” he said.
“But that’s a good hockey team. There’s some real skill over there and you can see that they’re well coached. They played well tonight and had a lot of enthusiasm to their game and they pushed hard. They’re certainly a very worthy opponent for us.”