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February 01, 2010
Pierre and Linda Lamoureux of Grand Forks, N.D., didn't set out to breed a full hockey team, but that's what they got: six college players, including two Olympians who will skate for Team USA in Vancouver
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February 01, 2010

House Of Hockey

Pierre and Linda Lamoureux of Grand Forks, N.D., didn't set out to breed a full hockey team, but that's what they got: six college players, including two Olympians who will skate for Team USA in Vancouver

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Just wait, thought Pierre. Mr. Howe, the Keeper of the Coulee, had an inkling of what was coming. He'd never forget the evening he entered the Lamoureux home just as one of the girls—who could tell which?—tumbled head over heels down the entire staircase. He stared, stunned, as she bounced to her feet, blurted, "Didn't hurt!" and bounded away.

The twins grew up getting knocked silly by their brothers in street and coulee hockey and swallowing their screams so the boys would let them keep playing. When Jocelyne, in third grade, finally broke and ran home sobbing to Mom after a Jacques slash that produced a lifelong scar on her left calf, Linda shrugged and said, "If you're going to play with boys, that's what you've got to expect."

There are girls on their team! Every rink they entered, the moment that cry was raised, the stakes went up, and humiliation, like a scythe, hovered overhead. Above opposing boys who got flattened by the twins and then serenaded by players on both sides, "You got freight-trained by a girl!" Above the twins' teammates, not to mention their parents, who had to watch two girls dominate play and playing time. Above the twins themselves, who had to keep proving they belonged, physically and emotionally, or get jeered off the ice.

By age six, the Missies had plans. They were going to play on the North Dakota hockey team—the men's team—and be Olympians. Theirs wouldn't be the lonely quest that it might be for some other girl: They had each other. Same friends, interests, opinions, tastes. "Remarkable," Grandma Henriette would say as they finished each other's sentences, "it's the same person twice!"

Head up, mouth shut. That was the code their father taught them before they ever laced a skate in a male locker room. Just before their first Pee Wees tryout, when checking at last would be allowed and all eyes would fix on the twins, Dad had another heart-to-heart with them in the kitchen. Jocelyne, he didn't worry so much about. She played forward and goalie, positions that wouldn't require the same machismo Monique would need as a defenseman. Don't wait, Pierre told Mo. First one-on-one drill, make a statement. Etch it on the alpha male—he told her who that was—even if it means butting in line to pair off with him. When he brings the puck up, Dad said, face him up, force him to the outside, then make your move. Lead with your shoulder, don't lunge, head up, skate right through him, knock him on his rear end. She did precisely that. Holy crap, thought Pierre.

"They can't do that!" parents screamed when it happened, again and again, during two years of Pee Wees and a year of Bantams. "Kick 'em out of the game!" Even the surgeon whom Grandma Edith assisted as a nurse said, "You could tame those two girls down."

Could she? They were high school all-state in soccer in eighth grade. They led their boys' 12-year-old hockey team, the Wheatkings, to the state championship, Mo scoring twice and Jocelyne blanking Grafton for two periods of the final in goal, then switching to forward and scoring on her second shift. But at 13 the Missies were becoming targets of punctured adolescent male pride, punches being thrown at them, and Grandma Edith couldn't hold her breath a minute more ... so, at last, entering ninth grade, the twins accepted scholarships to Shattuck--St. Mary's Prep, the Minnesota private school where Sidney Crosby had played. They left home at a young age just like their brothers and with trepidation entered the no-checking world of female hockey.

The girls at Shattuck had never seen anything like it: The twins hit the ice at 6:15 for 7 a.m. practices, hit the weight room seven days a week when only two were required and, after they finished the preseason mile run as freshmen, circled back to run the last lap again and urge the gasping junior backup goalie to the finish line. They were so damn humble and yet shoved everything so close to the edge, or beyond it—as Mo would rue, "Some things we learned in boys' hockey have really come back to bite us in the ass in girls' hockey"—that at the end of their freshman season Shattuck's two captains collected $50 from the team to induce the twins to make it through the national tournament without a penalty minute.

No more were the Lucky Lamoureuxes the royal-flush hockey family after Coach Stafford shifted Mo from defense to wing on a line centered by Jocelyne and let their telepathy wreak havoc. The twins carried Shattuck--St. Mary's to three national titles and then, because the Fighting Sioux women's program was a shambles in 2006--07, having just fired a coach in the midst of a 3-31-2 season, they accepted full rides to—horrors!—the Sioux's hated rivals, the powerhouse Minnesota Gophers.

The Missies' brothers branded them "wanted for treason." Their father refused to wear the Gophers hat the twins gave him till he had slipped inside their rink. Yet when Minnesota came to Grand Forks to play North Dakota, the Lamoureuxes had all the Gophers over for dinner, and the first thing they wanted to do after eating Mom's Scotcharoos was traipse through the snow in their sneakers and launch slap shots in the frigid ditch.

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